Trump sees ‘good chance’ of Mexico migration deal as clock ticks down to tariffs

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday there was a “good chance” that the United States would be able to reach a deal with Mexico over his demands that it curb the number of mostly Central American migrants crossing the southern U.S. border.

But as talks in Washington stretched into a third day without a resolution, his administration said it was still pushing ahead with a plan to impose 5% import tariffs on all Mexican goods from Monday.

U.S. border officers apprehended more than 132,000 people crossing from Mexico in May, the highest monthly level since 2006, and Trump, who has railed against what he describes as an “invasion,” has threatened to impose levies rising to 25% unless Mexico cracks down.

Mexico has appeared to make some concessions, offering to send 6,000 troops to its southern border with Guatemala, but has also said it wants to see a long-term solution that would involve economic development aid.

A key sticking point in the talks is a U.S. demand that Mexico accept more asylum seekers as a “safe third country,” Mexican sources said on Friday.

Trump, who returned to Washington on Friday from Europe, struck a positive note on the progress of the talks.

“If we are able to make the deal with Mexico, & there is a good chance that we will, they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels, starting immediately,” Trump said in tweet.

“If we are unable to make the deal, Mexico will begin paying Tariffs at the 5% level on Monday!”

U.S. agricultural exports are expected to be among those hardest hit by any retaliatory tariffs imposed by Mexico, which is the top importer of U.S. corn, wheat, pork and dairy by volume.

Mexico, in turn, is an important source of fresh fruit and vegetables for U.S. consumers. Walmart’s chief executive said on Friday that the retail giant was “concerned” about produce prices if the tariffs went ahead.

Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said earlier that while the United States was moving ahead with the tariffs, Trump could stop the process over the weekend.

“The president’s going to … look at a bunch of options, and weigh all the options over the weekend,” outgoing White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett told CNBC.

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