MEXICO CITY – President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday that the tariffs imposed by the United States on fabricated steel products imported from Mexico should not affect the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
“I want to separate these issues and we’re going to say that they are isolated decisions, that they don’t directly have anything to do with the free trade agreement, that’s another matter,” the president said during his daily press conference at the National Palace in Mexico City.
On Monday, the US Department of Commerce said it was going to impose tariffs on imports of fabricated steel products from China and Mexico, citing unfair competition and subsidies.
The Economy Secretariat responded by saying it would support Mexican firms affected by the US move.
Lopez Obrador, the founder and leader of the leftist National Regeneration Movement (Morena), said he planned to meet with his Cabinet to discuss the US government’s latest move on the trade front.
Foreign Relations Undersecretary for North America Jesus Seade said the move by Washington this time was “different” from other threats.
On May 30, President Donald Trump said his administration would impose escalating tariffs on Mexico over the issue of illegal immigration.
Mexico and the United States, however, reached a deal on border enforcement and the tariffs were never imposed.
“However, we are going to deal with this matter and we saw the thing about the tomatoes, and time has passed and domestic producers are affected,” Lopez Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, said.
On May 7, the US Department of Commerce said it would slap tariffs on Mexican tomato growers and suspend an agreement in effect since 1996 that halted an anti-dumping investigation.
“We have information, because we have responsibilities, that in the tomato case, especially, there are political-electoral interests, especially in Florida,” linked to one particular legislator, AMLO said.
The tomato case is “completely unfair,” the president said.
Lopez Obrador Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and Economy Secretary Graciela Marquez would discuss the situation during Wednesday’s daily press conference.
In response to a reporter’s question about relations with the United States and his relationship with Trump, AMLO said it was “very good” and he had “lots of confidence” in terms of dealing with “this new (tariff) challenge.”
“They listen to us and there is respect for the government of Mexico,” the president said.