President Donald Trump doubled down on his boast of “large” agricultural sales to Mexico as part of a deal on border security and illegal immigration that averted the threat of U.S. tariffs.
But the deal as released had none, and three Mexican officials said they’re not aware of any side accord.
Trump told his 61 million Twitter followers in an all-caps message on Saturday that Mexico had agreed to “immediately begin buying large quantities of agricultural product from our great patriot farmers.” He repeated the tweet shortly after midnight Sunday in Washington.
MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 8 de junio de 2019
But the communique issued late Friday by the State Department — the U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration — made no mention of agricultural trade as part of the agreement.
The State Department didn’t respond to an inquiry made through its press department. The White House declined to comment or offer proof to back up Trump’s tweet. The Mexican foreign ministry’s press office declined to comment.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said at a rally in Tijuana near the U.S. border that Mexico should celebrate the “important deal” with the U.S. that removed the threat of tariffs as it was preparing to retaliate. He didn’t mention agriculture in his speech attended by leading political figures in the country.
If tariffs “had been applied it would’ve caused significant damage to both economies,” he said. “We were being put in a very difficult and uncomfortable position to have to apply the same measures that were going to be placed on Mexican exports.”
Mexico is already a large buyer of U.S. farm goods, including corn, soybeans, pork and dairy products. It had given no indication of attempting to find alternative suppliers during the one-week standoff over Trump’s proposed steep tariffs on Mexican goods.
Increasing Mexico’s purchases from the U.S. wasn’t discussed during the three days of talks in Washington that led up to Friday’s agreement, said the three people with knowledge of the deliberations who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Mexico has no state-owned agricultural conglomerate to buy food products or handle distribution, or a government program that could buy farm equipment for delivery to producers.
Trump earlier on Friday suggested the talks were covering trade in agriculture, and not just border security issues as members of his administration had said — and that the State Department communique listed. If a deal was made, Trump said at the time, “they will begin purchasing Farm & Agricultural products at very high levels.”
Trump on Saturday was fund-raising on the back of the Mexican agreement. His campaign sent out a “donate now” email that read in part, “Art of the Deal! Mexico has agreed to help END ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. Promises Made. Promises Kept.”
Farm states, among the strongest of Trump’s supporters, have been hit hard by the president’s trade war against China, and the threat of additional action against Mexico had some farm-state senators up in arms. The president is expected to travel to the heartland to hold a private fund-raiser in West Des Moines on Tuesday.