Trump-imposed Mexico pact amounts to 'hostage-taking': Ex-WTO chief
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Trump-imposed Mexico pact amounts to 'hostage-taking': Ex-WTO chief

“My reaction is it seems that hostage-taking works. That’s my reaction,” said former WTO director-general Pascal Lamy as quoted in a Reuters report on Saturday, adding that the measure by Donald Trump was contrary to the spirit of international diplomacy. “That was the case with these Mexican tariffs,” he underlined. “The notion that you put a tariff because there are too many people crossing the border is just miles away from any letter and spirit of the WTO agreement. Which is why I qualify this as hostage-taking.” “If there’s a rule of law, it’s because people believe it’s better than the law of the jungle. And many people don’t like the law of the jungle because some are strong, some are weak, and they don’t want the strong to always step on the weak,” he further emphasized. Washington and Mexico City reached an accord to avoid a tariff war on Friday after Mexico agreed to expand a controversial asylum program and dispatch its security forces to contain the flow of illegal immigration from Central America. The concessions by Mexico City came after Trump threatened to levy increasing import tariffs of five percent on all Mexican goods on Monday if the administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador did not take measures to tighten its borders. This is while Mexico sends nearly 80 percent of its exports to the US, giving Trump plenty of leverage to exert pressure on Lopez Obrador over a surge in migrant detentions on the US-Mexico border. While Lamy -- a former European Commissioner for Trade who headed the WTO from 2005 to 2013 -- pointed out that it was understandable that Mexico had sought to extricate itself from the imposed tariffs, he also noted that it ran the risk of facing further threats from Trump in the future. “The US president is taking trade decisions that are in total violation of the WTO rules,” Lamy further insisted. Pointing to Trump’s clashes with the WTO, he also emphasized that it was still not clear whether the American president was more interested in reforming the organization, or neutralizing it. Lamy then stressed the rest of the world needed a fallback plan if Washington decided not to abide by international rules, adding: “The others have to find a way to stabilize the multilateral rules-based system even if the US wants to kill it.” Trump, meanwhile, has blamed the WTO for not doing enough to defend American  global trade interests, and in August 2018 threatened to pull the United States out of the organization. The development came as global markets have been roiled in recent months by Washington’s aggressive use of tariffs to assert US economic power, fanning concern about the stability of multilateral institutions that grew up after World War Two. Trump confident about Mexico deal Trump on Saturday predicted Mexico would firmly implement the new accord under which it agreed to expand the contentious asylum program and heighten security on its southern border to stem the flow of Latin American refugees towards the US. “Mexico will try very hard, and if they do that, this will be a very successful agreement between the United States and Mexico,” Trump wrote in a Saturday tweet message. The Trump administration believed the deal would “fix the immigration issue,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also stated on Saturday as cited in a Reuters report. Mnuchin, however, cautioned that Trump reserved the authority to impose tariffs if Mexico failed to enforce the new deal.

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