US President Donald Trump has issued a warning to Mexico to do more to curb migration and drugs coming into the US. But he stopped short of following through on an earlier threat to close the border completely.
US President Donald Trump on Thursday abandoned plans to immediately seal the Mexico border, instead setting a deadline to stop migrants and drugs entering the US.
"We're going to give them a one-year warning, and if the drugs don't stop, or largely stop, we're going to put tariffs on Mexico and products — in particular cars. The whole ballgame is cars," Trump told reporters.
The announcement is a big walk-back for Trump, who last week tweeted that he would close the border or large swathes of it this week unless Mexico immediately halted "ALL illegal immigration coming into the United States."
Trump said then that he was "not kidding around," and his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in a television interview on Sunday that it would take "something dramatic" for Trump not to close down the crossings.
'Important to keep migration and trade separate'
Mexico's Economy Minister Graciela Marquez Colin responed to Trump's announcement and said the issue of illegal immigration should not be put alongside the two countries' trade relationship.
"For the Mexican government, it is very important to keep migration issues and trade issues separate," Economy Minister Graciela Marquez Colin told a press conference.
Trump made stopping illegal immigration a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign, pledging to build a wall on the border to stop migrants.
When Congress refused to give him the money to pay for the wall, he declared a national emergency to divert funds from other projects.
The US and Mexico trade about $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) in goods daily, according to the US Chamber of Commerce, which had said closing the border would be "an unmitigated economic debacle" that would threaten 5 million American jobs.
Mexican exports look to the sky
Mexican exporters said this week that they were looking into transporting their goods to the US by air freight to avoid a line of trucks stretching eight kilometers (5 miles) at the border as a result of the Trump administration moving federal agents away from customs checks to immigration duties.
Auto parts and medical equipment makers were among the Mexican companies considering the more expensive air cargo to avoid incurring penalties for late delivery to US clients or factory closures, Luis Aguirre, the president of Mexico's manufacturing industry chamber INDEX, said late on Wednesday.