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Tariff Talks Between U.S. And Mexican Negotiators Press On


As President Trump left for Normandy this morning, he stopped to talk about Mexico. Talks resume at the White House today with Mexican officials over the president's threat to impose tariffs on all goods from that country. That is, if the U.S. and Mexico can't reach a deal over immigration.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're having a great talk with Mexico. We'll see what happens, but something pretty dramatic could happen. We've told Mexico the tariffs go on. And I mean it, too. And I'm very happy with it.

MARTIN: Those tariffs would go into effect Monday. Franco Ordoñez is NPR's White House correspondent. He joins us now in the studio. Franco, thanks for coming in.

FRANCO ORDOÑEZ, BYLINE: It is great to be here.

MARTIN: What do we know about how the talks went yesterday?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, they talked for almost two hours, and they didn't reach a deal, but they're going to return today and see if they can try again. The vice president, secretary of state - they have warned the Mexican team that they got to do more to avert what really could be a crisis for both sides. The Mexican foreign minister, Marcello Ebrard, said both sides had made their points clear. But there's still some distance between them. And today, they're going to spend some time - more time - trying to get closer on those details. I should say it is important that they have agreed - especially Ebrard has said that there is a problem with the increasing number of Central Americans traveling through the country. And that needs to be addressed.

MARTIN: OK. So there is acknowledgement of the problem. It's just now addressing how to fix that, which is the big issue. But some in the president's own party don't like his idea of threatening tariffs. They think that this is not good for American consumers. I mean, is that complicating the negotiations on the U.S. side?

ORDOÑEZ: It absolutely does. They have threatened to overturn the tariffs. It's unclear whether there is a veto-proof majority to do so. Republicans in general oppose the idea of tariffs, but the pressure right now is on the Mexican side. Customs and Border Protection said they have apprehended more than 140,000 migrants at the border just in May. The president has zeroed in on this issue and does not appear to be backing down despite opposition from his own party.

MARTIN: Franco, you reported that there are some in Mexico who don't like what they see from their government. They see a kind of kowtowing, a kind of subservience to the Trump administration on this issue. What more can you tell us?

ORDOÑEZ: Yeah. I've talked to former Mexican government officials who feel the current Mexican administration really gave up too much leverage to Trump, who has cast this as kind of Mexico's responsibility. They say it's a regional problem that needs a long-term solution and cannot be solved with threat of tariffs looming. They really wish their government pushed back sooner, and they wish the Mexican government had worked harder sooner to build alliances with friends in the U.S. They're talking about business people, academics and sympathetic politicians who could say, hey, this is going to hurt us too.

MARTIN: Right. So they go back to the negotiating table today. Any idea what we can expect?

ORDOÑEZ: Well, we can expect more hours of talks trying to hammer out short-term and long-term compromise. And it has to be something that can be seen by both sides as a win. It's not going to be easy. There are political implications on both sides. And they really don't have much time. President Trump said, again, that if they cannot come to an agreement, the tax will go into effect on Monday.

MARTIN: NPR's new White House correspondent, Franco Ordoñez, thank you so much.

ORDOÑEZ: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Franco Ordoñez is a White House Correspondent for NPR's Washington Desk. Before he came to NPR in 2019, Ordoñez covered the White House for McClatchy. He has also written about diplomatic affairs, foreign policy and immigration, and has been a correspondent in Cuba, Colombia, Mexico and Haiti.