Mexico explores alternate trade routes as U.S. threatens to close border

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-05 16:17:00|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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MEXICO CITY, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Mexico is exploring alternate trade routes in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump's threats of closing the U.S.-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration, a top official said on Thursday.

Graciela Marquez, Mexico's economy minister, said officials are looking into the possibility of shipping goods north by sea if the U.S. seals its southern border.

Currently, 70 percent of Mexico's total trade travels by land, the minister said at a press conference.

According to the minister, Mexico's government is already adopting measures to cope with the U.S. government's decision to scale back administrative personnel at some border crossings, which has slowed cross-border trade.

"I wouldn't call it trade restrictions, but rather administrative decisions that translate into trade restrictions. But we would have to wait for the definitive closure as a measure of obstructing trade," she said.

Marquez did not rule out the possibility of turning to the World Trade Organization in the event of a border closure, but admitted that it was all "speculation" for the moment.

While the trade sector is being impacted by delays at border crossings, it is difficult to estimate the losses, she said.

The issues of trade and immigration should be dealt with "in separate tracks," Marquez said.

"After 72 years of a system of open trade we cannot go backward, the present challenges should not lead us to seek false solutions in a past that created barriers in the trade of goods and services," Marquez said.

Restrictive measures and "hidden protectionism" are not options for Mexico, she added.

Since last week, Trump has been threatening to close the southern border to pressure Mexico into taking measures to stop undocumented migrants from Central America heading to the United States.

On Thursday, Trump said he probably would not immediately close the border, but warned that down the road he might impose tariffs on automobiles imported from Mexico, if the country does not halt the flow of migrants and drugs into the United States.