Yesterday was a red-letter day: The T-MEC* passed the Mexican Senate, the Canadian Parliament, and the U.S. Congress.
In the morning, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he was sending the initiative to the Senate, while Ricardo Monreal worked with legal coordinators to convene a special session for approval on Tuesday, June 18. Canadian Premier Justin Trudeau sent the initiative to his parliament in Ottawa and Donald Trump sent the draft document to Congress for discussion and approval within 30 days.
But in the midst of those happy and simultaneous processes, Trump announced a spectacular measure against immigration that has nothing to do with closing the border.
At 2 p.m. on Radio Fórmula, Undersecretary Jesús Seade confessed that he was fascinated — and rightly so — by the turn of events in this stalled process and the decision to eliminate tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminum, which had been an insurmountable obstacle to negotiation.
We were still celebrating, when The Washington Post announced that Trump was going to impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports. Trump confirmed this on Twitter, saying that this tax would increase progressively up to 25% until the immigration problem is resolved.
The announcement was a blow, that Seade, himself at dusk described as disastrous.
Faced with this aggressive move by Trump, coming at a time when President Lopez Obrador was expected to speak in his usual nonconfrontational way about the situation, AMLO sent an unusually forceful message.
He said that social problems are not resolved by taxes or coercive measures, that the policy of America First is false. “I propose to deepen the dialogue … and, please, remember that I do not lack courage, that I am not cowardly nor timid but that I act on principles,” the president said.
In short, his message proposes a high-level mission, led by Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, to be welcomed in Washington today in order to reach an agreement for the benefit of the two nations.
That’s what we wanted. Energy and dignity.
* Translator’s Note: Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá refers to the updated free trade agreement to replace NAFTA.In Mexico, it is called the “T-MEC” (Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá); in Canada, it is called CUSMA for the Canada, United States and Mexico Agreement, and the United States refers to it as the USMCA for the United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement.