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  • Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, AMLO, at the National Palace. May 13, 2019

    Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, AMLO, at the National Palace. May 13, 2019 | Photo: @lopezobrador_

Published 31 May 2019

Speaking to the press Friday, Mexican President Lopez Obrador said he and his administration will not 'fall for' Trump's immigration 'provocations'.

During a Friday morning press conference, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) says his administration will proceed with “caution and respect” in light of United States President Donald Trump's sudden Thursday evening tweet to impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10.

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From the National Palace in Mexico, AMLO called the move a 'provocation' his government would not fall for.

"I want to make clear that we will act with caution, with respect, towards the authorities of the United States in regards to President Donald Trump's (announcement),” said the Mexican head of state, per Reuters.

Late Thursday, Trump tweeted he will begin to impose a gradual tariff increase on all Mexican imports, up to 25 percent by Oct. 1, if the neighbor to the south “until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied,” according to the U.S. president.

Speaking to the press, AMLO said he had faith the U.S. administration would revise its Thursday night proposal.

"I believe that this measure will be further analysed by the United States government. I believe that President Trump will understand that this is not the way to solve things. I think that there will be a correction, if not right away, at some point. Because these measures are neither in the interest of Mexicans nor United States citizens," stressed AMLO Friday.

The Mexican president already released a letter to his counterpart Thursday, reminding Trump that “social problems are not resolved with taxes or coercive means.”

AMLO told Trump he doesn’t lack courage, but is instead acting on principles and diplomacy when it comes to dealing with such “provocations.”

“Please remember that I do not lack courage, that I am not cowardly or timorous but that I act on principles: I believe in politics that, among others, was invented to avoid confrontation and war."

On Thursday, Trump released a statement claiming Mexico was behaving in "passive cooperation" with the "mass incursion (that) constitutes an emergency and extraordinary threat to the national security and economy of the United States," referring to the caravans of asylum seekers from Central America making their way to the U.S. 

Lopez Obrador, who took office, in December 2018, added in his letter, “from the beginning of my government I proposed opting for cooperation for development and helping the Central American countries with productive investments to create jobs and resolve this painful issue in depth."

While Mexican authorities have ramped up deporting Central Americans traveling through the country, the current president has gotten major development projects in southern Mexico, not all popular with locals, off the ground, including the Train Maya. AMLO has promoted these initiatives as job-creators for Mexicans and Central Americans in the typically impoverished area.

His administration has also met with governments of Central America to build economies in this subcontinental region, the very place where the majority of Latino migrants and U.S. asylum seekers, the immigration ire of Trump’s administration, hail from.

Additionally, last January, Mexico temporarily issued one-year humanitarian visas to migrants in Chiapas, which allowed them to work in certain areas of the country.

AMLO said Thursday his administration is “fulfilling” its “responsibility” to allow migrants and asylum seekers to travel through the country, “without violating human rights.”

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According to the U.S. Office of Trade Representatives, the U.S. imported $346.5 billion of goods from Mexico in 2018, a 10.3 percent jump over the previous year prior. Mexican media puts the total amount of imports at well over US$358 billion.   

Under the current version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), member countries are prohibited from implementing new customs duties or tariff on goods. The newest NAFTA draft is making its way through Mexico’s Congress is expected to be ratified soon.

Markets immediately felt the effects of Trump’s announcement so that by 7:00 a.m. Friday morning in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had dropped by 258 points. The S&P 500 lowered by 1.2 points and Nasdaq futures dropped by 1.5 percent. The S&P 500 was already down by 5.3 percent owing to Trump’s continued rhetorical and practical trade war on China.

“President Trump’s latest trade bombshell … might turn out to be a short-lived threat,” Krishna Guha, head of strategy at Evercore ISI. The analyst added, however, that “At the big picture level, ... Trump trade policy might well mean a permanent state of endemic uncertainty and instability in the global trading system.”

AMLO ended his letter Thursday by offering to have his Secretary of State, Marcelo Ebrard, to meet with U.S. officials Friday at the White House.

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