Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said President Trump retains the authority to impose tariffs on Mexico if it fails to live up to its agreement to stem the flow of Central American immigrants crossing into the U.S.
“Our expectation is that Mexico will do what they’ve committed to do, and our expectation is that we won’t need to put tariffs in place, but obviously if that’s not the case, the president retains that authority,” Mnuchin told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a G20 finance meeting in Japan.
On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. and Mexico struck a deal to avert a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods in exchange for an agreement by Mexico to deploy its national guard to its southern border with Guatemala. Mexico also said it would take “decisive action” to stop human smuggling and trafficking organizations.
Mexico and the U.S. will continue discussion for other possible steps in 90 days if needed.
“Both parties also agree that, in the event the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions,” the State Department said.
Last week, Trump abruptly said that he would slap a sliding tariff -- starting at 5 percent, but ultimately going to 25 percent -- on Mexican imports if the country didn’t try to stop migrant border crossings. The tariff was set to go into effect on Monday.
Mnuchin said he participated in a call with Trump before the deal was announced.
“We now have an agreement that we believe is going to fix the immigration issue. And that was extremely important to the president,” Mnuchin said.
Trump’s tariffs on Mexico drew almost an immediate rebuke from Republicans and were met with resistance by multiple U.S. business groups, as well as the Chamber of Commerce, which threatened legal action to prevent the White House from imposing the import tax.