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Ambassador Garza: US needs to work together with Mexico on migration issues

Ambassador Antonio Garza encourages the Trump Administration to work together with Mexico to halt immigration flows rather than imposing trade tariffs that would be at the detriment of both countries. Watch on Bloomberg

Quotes from the interview:

Reaction to President Trump's tariffs announcement

“Here in Mexico I think the initial reaction last week was, really, dumbfounded. The trajectory on the USMCA appeared to be assuming a more positive tone. The Mexican President had submitted USMCA to the Senate for approval in fact on the same day that the President started talking about these tariffs for immigration deal. One is I think they are stuck by the authorization, that the President is cloaking this threat in, is one that is typically directed at enemies and adversaries in situations encompassing extraordinary threat. Secondly, they have tried to be very constructive throughout this year in terms of addressing not only U.S. concerns but Mexicans’ concerns about the large number of Central Americans coming through Mexico and into the United States. In using their own immigration laws they have done quite a bit more enforcement and deportation. So I think they’re struck by really the wisdom of this and from our perspective you have to wonder how much sense it makes to open up another trade war essentially with the ongoing battles that we have with China, essentially with two or three of your largest trading partners, now putting yourself in a kind of trade tiff minimally, more likely a trade war situation. There’s real concern. As you might imagine the options appear limited in terms of where we go from here. Mexico could litigate under WTO or NAFTA, retaliate with reciprocal tariffs and things of that nature. I don’t know that they have much more capacity in terms of enforcement and deportation but that is essentially where we are.”

On Mexico's abilities to halt immigration

“Policing their southern border is really a very big challenge and they have committed significant resources to doing that. There numbers are way up in terms of enforcement and deportation. They’re limited in a number of respects. One is in terms of resources, second is their whole constitution limits them in terms of how they can limit peoples’ movement within the country even those coming in through that southern border, and third they have signed on to a number of international migratory protocols that also limit them. I think their response has been they have done everything within their financial and economic capacity as well as legal authorization in terms of enforcement. Perhaps there are a few more things that they could do, ultimately I think the conversations have to be around what can Mexico and the United States do together in terms of enforcement along the southern and northern borders and our southern border. What can they do together in terms of addressing the conditions in Central America that have caused this large exodus of peoples from that region. But I think from the Mexican perspective they say they are a transient country, they share a border with the United States. [The question is] what can we do constructively together to address this situation as opposed to going tit for tat on tariffs that ultimately I think is to the detriment of both countries.”

On the potential impact of the tariffs on the United States

“I think the important question for many of us whether from states like Texas or Michigan is what does it do for this platform for North American competitiveness that is so important to all of us. And I think it would be very damaging in terms of any tariffs would ultimately be bore by United States’ consumers, it would start to impact decisions with respect to the supply chain, as you know 40% of the content on exports coming out of Mexico is U.S. content. Thirdly I think it starts to impact investment decisions. We’re looking at an economy that is looking for a breather and these trade battles both with China, and now you’re looking at the EU and Japan, if we can’t bring to ground an agreement with our neighbor and longstanding trade partner that’s one of our largest, I think it suggests something about our commitment to trade and the market will start to take note. So certainly [increased tariffs] would impact the Mexican economy adversely but I think the larger questions are what is the impact on North American and United States’ standing in terms of being a leader on trade.”


Ambassador Antonio Garza served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 2002 to 2009. He currently serves as Counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case LLP. Additionally, Ambassador Garza is Chairman of Vianovo Ventures, a management consultancy with a focus on cross-border business development.


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