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Editorial: President Trump too selfish in pursuing ‘America First’

  • June 5, 2019
  • , Asahi , p. 12
  • JMH Translation

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced that he will impose an additional 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico. The reason he cites is that the southern neighbor’s efforts to curb illegal immigration into the United States are inadequate. The tariffs could apparently be increased incrementally to 25% if Mexico does not stem the flow of migrants over the southern border of the United States.


President Trump took this action based on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, a U.S. federal law authorizing the President to take such steps as imposing financial sanctions during national emergencies. In his statement, President Trump said, “For decades, the United States has suffered the dangerous consequences of illegal immigration.”


Has the President decided that he can resolve all outstanding diplomatic issues by threatening additional tariffs on the pretext of “national security concerns” and “national emergencies”? The move can only be described as outrageous. The President should retract his statement immediately.


Addressing illegal immigration was one of the pillars of President Trump’s campaign platform during the presidential election. Opposition to building a wall along the southern border persists within America, however, and the President took the step of declaring a national emergency in February. Despite this, however, things have not gone as he had hoped. Now the administration has apparently found itself in a situation where it cannot let the issue go. Nevertheless, imposing additional tariffs on the pretext of a national emergency again is nothing short of abuse of authority.


Mexico is the second largest exporter to the United States after China, and imposing huge tariffs on this neighbor will deal a major blow to the U.S. economy. The U.S. Congress and industry are opposed to President Trump’s decision. The tariffs will also impact Japanese companies in the automotive industry that use their Mexico operations to manufacture products for export to the U.S.


Complaining that “’America First’ is a fallacy,” Mexico has entered negotiations with the U.S. to avoid the tariffs. A resolution though cool-headed dialogue is what is needed.


Just last year, the United States signed a new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. During the negotiations, the United States threatened to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is the predecessor to the new agreement. Mexico then made repeated concessions, and a pact was reached. President Trump has proposed new tariffs in connection with illegal immigration, which has nothing to do with trade, at a time when procedures are underway for the effectuation of the new trade agreement. His tariff proposal calls into question why a new trade deal was formed.


The United States is exchanging punitive tariffs with China, and the third round of tariff hikes started in earnest this month. A fourth round is possible. Bilateral consultations must be pursued to end the confrontation.


The United States is also engaged in trade negotiations with Japan and the European Union.


Trade negotiations are meaningless if the U.S. unilaterally takes measures that could undermine newly concluded pacts with foreign governments.


Through his selfish words and actions, President Trump has undermined trust in the United States. If things continue as they are, none of the negotiations will be resolved. Doesn’t the United States realize the seriousness of that?

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