MEXICOCITY (Reuters) – Mexico could win a trade war with the United States but it is a war Mexico doesn’t want because it would take too heavy a toll, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday.
Lopez Obrador spoke at an event with military officials in the Mexican capital where he sketched out plans to deploy members of a newly created National Guard to better enforce the border with Guatemala in a bid to make good on a migration deal he made earlier this month with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Lopez Obrador said the deal was positive because it removed Trump’s threat of across-the-board tariffs on Mexican exports to the United States if Mexico’s government did not significantly reduce the flow of U.S.-bound asylum seekers.
But in a rare instance of chest-thumping for the Mexican president, who has consistently sought to lower tensions with Trump, Lopez Obrador insisted Mexico could come out on top of such a trade conflict with its northern neighbour.
“We’re going to have good results (with the National Guard deployment) and this moves us away from the threat of the start of a trade war that isn’t advisable, because we could win it, but we don’t want the war,” Lopez Obrador said.
The migration deal Mexico struck on June 7 with the United States commits the Mexican government to contain the numbers of mostly Central American migrants within 45 days. If Trump determines that Mexico’s efforts are insufficient, he has said he would consider reviving the tariff threat.
Lopez Obrador did not mention the deadline or offer details on how he would reduce migrant numbers, but he said a trade war with the United States would be economically damaging.
“It would be like winning a pyrrhic battle,” he said, “where you win, but many things are left on the field, your strength very much weakened despite the victory.”
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Dave Graham and Leslie Adler)