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Trump is ‘totally crazy’ for ‘blackmailing’ Mexico with tariffs: Vicente Fox

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox is slamming U.S. President Donald Trump for threatening to impose tariffs on his country, calling the move “blackmail,” “totally crazy,” and a self-serving ploy to score political points with supporters ahead of next year’s election.

Mexican officials met with the Trump administration again on Thursday in the hopes of avoiding a five per cent tax on all goods from Mexico entering the U.S. set to take effect on June 10.

The talks follow a 90-minute meeting on Wednesday between U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard that ended without an agreement.

Trump hopes the prospect of tariffs, which could rise to 25 per cent by October, will strong-arm Mexico into stemming the flow of Central American migrants across the U.S. border.

Tweeting from Ireland, Trump wrote that “Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!”

Fox, who served as the president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006, is calling on global corporate leaders and politicians to oppose U.S. trade aggression against Mexico that could threaten the ratification of the new North American Trade pact.

“It is totally crazy what he is proposing,” Fox told Yahoo Finance Canada in an interview in Toronto following the The Economist Events Cannabis Summit. “It’s stupid to use this blackmailing strategy to be re-elected. He wants to keep his electoral base. He is so selfish, so stubborn. Everything he is doing is wrong.”

He said solving the migration issue requires solutions to build economic prosperity at the source in Central America, not a U.S. border wall or trade sanctions.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox looks on during a news conference to announce the cannabis forum CannaMexico World Summit in Mexico City, Mexico April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

“In Syria, migrants are running away from violence, from war. They cross the Mediterranean sea, (and) they die on the road many of them,” he said. “It’s exactly the same situation, but in economic terms, in the case of Central America. These people are running out of violence, running out of hunger or lack of opportunity, and coming through Mexico.”

Ironically, he said years of economic prosperity in Mexico spurred by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has a growing number of Mexicans leaving the U.S. to return home.

“In Mexico, the migration trend has reversed. Many more Mexicans are coming back to Mexico than going out. What happened so that we have this today? It’s NAFTA. It’s trading. By trading, Mexico has created a very strong manufacturing base, (and) has created a lot of jobs. We’re almost at full employment,” Fox said. “This is proof that the solution is to solve problems where the migration starts.”

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