Despite progress so far, “there’s a long way to go still, that’s the bottom line. And so the legal teams are talking today, and we’ll see how that progresses,” Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters at the White House.
The notice for the tariffs is expected to be published Friday, he said. “But I think that there is the ability, if negotiations continue to go well, that the president can turn that off at some point over the weekend.”
More than 100 business and agriculture groups urged Trump to hold off on imposing tariffs on Mexico next week.
The groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, made their case in a joint statement Friday.
Adopting a 5 percent tariff would jeopardize passage of a trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, known as the USMCA, which still needs to be passed by lawmakers in each country to take effect, the groups said.
“Imposing unilateral tariffs on Mexico jeopardizes a successful bipartisan vote on USMCA and approval of the agreement,” according to the statement. “Tariffs on Mexican imports would harm U.S. consumers, workers, farmers and businesses of all sizes across all sectors, making us less competitive and undermining efforts to negotiate strong trade deals in the future.”
The statement illustrated the deep unpopularity of Trump’s planned tariff with business groups that typically support GOP priorities. Business leaders have raised concern the tariffs could damage the economy.
U.S. oil companies also are among those lobbying against the potential tariffs, while Ford Motor Co.'s president has said the tariffs would ``have a significant impact on the industry, ourselves included'' -- particularly if they rise as high as 25 percemt, as Trump has threatened.
Trump is returning on Friday from a week-long trip to the U.K., France and Ireland. Mexican officials have sought a delay for the tariffs to have more time to negotiate a response to the migration surge, but the U.S. has made clear that the final decision is up to Trump.
As of now, “we’re moving forward with the tariffs and they will go into effect Monday,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Friday on Air Force One before departing Ireland.
Meetings have gone well and progress has been made, Sanders said. Trump is getting regular updates from Pence, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, she said.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said earlier Friday he’s optimistic the countries will reach an agreement.
“Unfortunately, there’s a mixing of migration with commercial matters,” he said. “It’s not taking into account what’s happening in Central America, the profound crisis taking place.”
Short said that Mexico arrived at meetings on Wednesday with proposals that were “wholly insufficient.” Then, on Thursday, Mexico showed openness to some U.S. proposals and the administration was “more encouraged,” Short said. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is leading talks Friday, Short said in a separate interview with Fox News.
More than 144,000 people were apprehended after illegally crossing the southern border in May or were refused entry to the U.S. That’s the most in a single month in at least five years; the number has grown every month since January.
In one proposal, Mexico would deploy 6,000 national guard troops to its own southern border region to discourage migrants from crossing into the country from Guatemala, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said on Thursday.
Trump, in an interview that aired Thursday night with Fox News, criticized Republicans who have spoken out against his tariff threat against a top trading partner. Last year, the U.S. negotiated a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada that still requires lawmakers’ approval.
“They’re hurting a deal. They should be saying, we’re with the president, we’ll do whatever he wants to do, and Mexico would fold like an umbrella,” Trump said.