President Donald Trump crowed on Twitter Saturday that a new deal with Mexico that focused on immigration issues includes an agreement by the U.S. neighbor to “immediately” begin buying “large quantities” of U.S. farm products ― a claim that has spurred skepticism.
There’s not a word about such an agricultural deal in the “joint declaration” on the overall agreement issued by the State Department and Mexico. Three Mexican officials with knowledge of the deliberations also told Bloomberg News that they were unaware of any such agreement.
The issue was not raised during negotiations, the officials told Bloomberg.
The New York Times reported Saturday that much of what was outlined in the joint declaration concerning Mexico’s efforts to stem the number of immigrants heading to the U.S. border was already promised by Mexican officials over the past several months and was not sparked by Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on Mexican products.
As for the purchase of farm produce, Mexico has always been a major buyer of U.S. agricultural products. U.S. exports of agricultural products to Mexico last year totaled $20 billion, making the country America’s second-largest largest agricultural export market, according to U.S. statistics. Mexico buys large amounts of American corn, dairy, soybeans and pork and pork products.
Trump’s threatened tariffs on Mexican products had raised fears that the move would trigger retaliatory tariffs that would likely hurt U.S. farmers.
Bloomberg reported that there was no indication buyers in Mexico were searching elsewhere for other suppliers to stop trading with American farmers.
Bloomberg also noted that Mexico has no “state-owned” conglomerate that could quickly buy up vast new stores of U.S. agricultural products, the scenario that Trump seemed to be envisioning. Sales would depend on buyer demand, just as it has all along.
State Department officials could not immediately be reached for comment by HuffPost. The officials did not respond to questions from Bloomberg.
Trump first veered off onto the farm product issue Friday, tweeting that if a deal could be reached with Mexico, the country would “begin purchasing farm and agricultural products at a very high level, starting immediately.” If no deal was reached “Mexico will begin paying tariffs,” he said.
Tariffs imposed on another nation’s products by the U.S. are not paid directly to the U.S. by that country. They are paid by importers and the costs are absorbed by America companies and consumers. Trump has often repeated his lie about how tariffs work, despite corrections by the media and his own officials.
Trump’s tweet Friday stumped followers on Twitter, who were confused that talks with Mexico suddenly seemed to revolve around farm products instead of efforts to stem immigration to the U.S.
American farmers have been among the hardest hit in Trump’s trade war with China.