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'America First is a fallacy,' Mexico's president responds to Trump tariff

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico May 31, 2019, 04.35 PM (IST)

"America First is a fallacy," Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told US President Donald Trump in a letter on Thursday, responding to a White House announced it was imposing a blanket 5% tariff on all goods from Mexico from June 10.

Lopez Obrador said he wanted to avoid confrontation with the United States, and that ideals such as justice and universal brotherhood were more important than borders.

The Mexican president also ordered his foreign minister to travel to Washington on Friday.

US President Donald Trump, struggling to stem a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, vowed on Thursday to impose a tariff on all goods coming from Mexico starting at 5 per cent and ratcheting higher until the flow of border-crossers ceases.

Trump said in a statement that the tariffs would start at 5 per cent on June 10 then go to 10 per cent on July 1, 15 per cent on August 1, 20 per cent on September 1 and go up to 25 per cent on October 1 unless Mexico takes steps to stop the surge.

Trump's move was a dramatic escalation of his battle to control a tide of illegal immigrants that has increased despite his efforts to build a border wall and take other steps.

The US officials said 80,000 people are being held in custody with an average of 4,500 arriving daily.

"If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the tariffs will be removed," Trump said.

Story highlights

Lopez Obrador said he wanted to avoid confrontation with the United States, and that ideals such as justice and universal brotherhood were more important than borders.