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Trump defends Mexico deal as criticism continues

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sterling (US): With his threatened Mexican tariffs now on the backburner, President Donald Trump was looking to claim victory even as some of his Democratic challengers for the White House criticised him for overselling a deal that mostly ramps up existing efforts.

Trump defended the agreement reached by US and Mexican negotiators to head off the 5 per cent tax on all Mexican goods that Trump had threatened to impose yesterday as he tried to pressure the country to do more to stem the flow of Central American migrants across the US southern border.

But he also dangled the prospect Sunday of renewing his threat if the US ally doesn't cooperate to his liking.

"There is now going to be great cooperation between Mexico & the USA, something that didn't exist for decades," Trump tweeted before spending a second day at his Virginia golf course.

"However," he added, "if for some unknown reason" that doesn't happen, "we can always go back to our previous, very profitable, position of Tariffs."

Business leaders and many Republicans had urged Trump against the tariffs, warning they would drive up consumer prices, hinder the economy and compromise the ratification of an updated North American trade deal.

The tweets came amid questions about just how much of the deal — announced with great fanfare Friday — was really new.

It included a commitment from Mexico, for instance, to deploy its new National Guard to the country's southern border with Guatemala.

Mexico, however, had already intended to do that before Trump's latest threat and had made that clear to US officials.

Mexican officials have described their commitment as an accelerated deployment.

The US also hailed Mexico's agreement to embrace the expansion of a program implemented earlier this year under which some asylum-seekers are returned to Mexico as they wait out their cases. But US officials had already been working to expand the program, which has already led to the return of about 10,000 to Mexico, without Mexico's public embrace.

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