By Spencer Feingold
High level talks between Mexican and U.S. officials took place on Monday in Washington as Mexico works to fend off the punitive tariffs threatened by the White House last week.
The Mexican delegation was lead by Economy Minister Graciela Marquez and met with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to discuss the potential economic fallout from the tariff hike, which is set to take effect on June 10.
Last Thursday, the Trump administration threatened a 5 percent tariff increase on Mexican imports to force Mexico to "halt the illegal flow of migrants" into the U.S. The tariffs will increase to 10 percent in July "if the crisis persists," the White House said in a statement.
The tariff threat was immediately met with a backlash from Mexico, businesses, and politicians from both sides of the aisle. Critics argue that the tariff hikes could exacerbate the complex issue of immigration and negatively impact U.S. industries, which imported nearly $400 billion worth of goods from Mexico last year, according to the U.S. Trade Representative.
"Tariffs could cause financial and economic instability, and Mexico could reduce its capacity to address migration flows," Martha Bárcena, Mexico's Ambassador to the U.S., said during the negotiations Monday.
The Trump administration has long criticized Mexico for failing to curb migration from Central America's northern triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras — from reaching the U.S. southern border.
The Mexican government defended its immigration policies on Monday and noted in a statement that it has "rescued 80,537 individuals and returned them to their country of origin" in the past six months.
President Trump attacked the Mexican delegation on Sunday, saying in a tweet "Mexico is sending a big delegation to talk about the Border. Problem is, they've been 'talking' for 25 years. We want action, not talk. They could solve the Border Crisis in one day if they so desired. Otherwise, our companies and jobs are coming back to the USA!"
Yet economists fear that the tariffs will hurt businesses and result in higher prices for U.S. consumers.
"I'm certainly very uneasy about it. I am a free trader and I don't like tariffs," Stephen Moore, a longtime support of the president and a current fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Cheddar in an interview Monday. "I don't like the idea of every time we have a dispute with a nation we threaten them with tariffs."
Moore — who withdrew his bid to serve on the Federal Reserve board amid scandal following Trump's nomination — nonetheless, praised Trump as a "master negotiator" and said it is unlikely that the tariffs will go into effect.
"Unlike much of Trump's agenda, his tariffs don't have a constituency -- they're just his personal obsession," Paul Krugman, the Nobel Laureate and famed economist, said in a tweet Monday. "Even his own officials clearly thought the Mexico tariff was nuts."
Already, several companies have spoken out against the proposed tariffs, especially agricultural producers, food chains, and car manufacturers. Chipotle said that the tariffs could cost the company roughly $15 million in 2019.
"If the tariffs become permanent, we would look to offset these costs through other margin improvement efforts already underway," Jack Hartung, Chipotle's chief financial officer, said in a statement to Cheddar on Monday.
The popular Mexican food chain said it is considering a "modest price increase, such as about a nickel on a burrito," to offset the increased costs.
For full interview click here.