President Donald Trump has threatened Guatemala with tariffs following the country’s government’s decision not to meet with Trump to reach a deal regarding asylum-seekers from other nations.
What’s the background?
Trump has been trying to make asylum-seekers apply for asylum in other countries, rather than entering the United States first. In May, a federal court said that he could legally make these asylum-seekers wait in Mexico, provided that these people were not seeking asylum from Mexico. This type of arrangement is known as a “safe third country” agreement.
Guatemala’s president had initially agreed to a similar deal for his country, before internal pressure and Guatemala’s top court prevented the deal from going through.
What did Trump say now?
On Twitter, Trump said:
Guatemala, which has been forming Caravans and sending large numbers of people, some with criminal records, to the United States, has decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement. We were ready to go. Now we are looking at the “BAN,” Tariffs, Remittance Fees, or all of the above. Guatemala has not been good. Big U.S. taxpayer dollars going to them was cut off by me 9 months ago.
Guatemala is part of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, and has been since 2006. However, existing trade agreements seem to have not been a barrier for Trump when implementing tariffs. Although conservatives have traditionally opposed tariffs, Trump has praised them as a bargaining tactic and called them “the greatest.”
What about the U.S. taxpayer dollars he mentioned?
In October, Trump announced that the U.S. would be cutting off aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador after those nations failed to stop a migrant caravan passing through their borders. Guatemala had received around $229 million from the U.S. in 2017.