The U.S. will impose a 5% tariff on all imports from Mexico beginning June 10 and will gradually raise the rate to as much as 25% by October if the Latin American country fails to take steps to "dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens" crossing the border, the White House said late May 30.
The tariffs, which were first announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Twitter, will be raised by 5 percentage points every month beginning in July until they reach 25% on Oct. 1. The duties will be maintained at 25% "unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory," according to the White House.
The announcement comes on the same day that the Trump administration took the first step to spur a vote in Congress on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by sending lawmakers a draft statement of administrative action on the trade deal. That move starts the clock for consideration of the USMCA — which would replace the existing North American Free Trade Agreement that governs trade in the U.S., Canada and Mexico — giving Democrats 30 days to negotiate the text of the deal before formal legislation is submitted.
In a letter addressed to Trump, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he does not want confrontation with the U.S., adding: "Social problems are not resolved by levies and coercive measures." A delegation of Mexican officials, led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard, will head to Washington on May 31 in a bid to reach an agreement between the two countries, he also said in the letter.
The U.S. recorded a goods trade deficit of $22.68 billion with Mexico in the first quarter, according to data from the Census Bureau. Exports to the U.S.'s southern neighbor reached $63.95 billion in the first three months of the year, while imports amounted to $86.63 billion.