Mexican president cancels meeting with Trump after tariff proposal

In the last few days relations between the United States and Mexico have unraveled as President Trump presses forward on his plan to build a border wall between the two nations.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has made it clear Mexico will not pay for the wall, but Trump announced a different plan Thursday: enact a 20 percent tariff on goods imported from Mexico. Nieto promptly canceled a meeting with Trump that was scheduled for next week as diplomatic relations simmered after the tariff announcement.

The tariff proposal did not go over well with Mexican citizens who were already angry Nieto was planning to meet with Trump. Already facing intense scrutiny, the tariff seemed to be a step too far, and Nieto pulled the plug.

Many saw Nieto’s previous willigness to work with Trump as generous from the beginning.

“Peña Nieto has made a superhuman effort,” said Jesus Silva-Herzog, a professor at the School of Government at Tecnológico de Monterrey. “He has gone above and beyond to preserve the friendship with America and has done everything possible, while risking all of his prestige and popularity, to try to find a common ground of trust with Mr. Trump.”

A willingness to work with Trump seems to be swiftly coming to a close as Mexican citizens, and now the Mexican government, lose patience with the new president. Trump has been intensively disliked by most Mexicans after his infamous “rapists” comments and his general anti-immigration, anti-trade attitude.

Now, with Trump seemingly making good on his border wall promise, there may be no more reasons to play nice. There is also the distinct likelihood that a potential tariff on imported Mexican goods would detrimental to America. Goods ranging from cars to avocados would likely be significantly more expensive, thus placing the burden on ordinary U.S. citizens.

“The notion that a 20 percent tariff is a way of forcing Mexico to pay for the wall, it’s just a falsehood. It’s a way of forcing American consumers to pay for the wall,” said Edward Alden, a Council on Foreign Relations trade expert.

Although the president seems to be fairly serious about his proposed tariff, Trump critic, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), added some much need levity to the situation:

Trump has yet to respond to Nieto’s cancellation on Twitter, but White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer assured reporters at the White House’s daily press briefing Thursday afternoon that the meeting would be rescheduled.

“We’ll look for a date to schedule something in the future,” he said.

 

[Reuters] [New York Times] [CNNMoney] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy Henry Romero/Reuters via NBC News]