China and Guatemala shake up Trump's agenda

  • EFE

The United States is studying increasing tariffs on Chinese products to progress in talks with the Asian giant and look for a trade pact, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a proposal by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, but the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, opposes it.

The president, Donald Trump, who has been in tune with Lighthizer in previous conversations, has clarified that he wants a pact with Beijing and is pushing the representative to achieve this, those sources also mentioned that the trade pact between the parties ends on March 1 and the tax rate on a series of Chinese imports worth 200,000 million dollars will rise from 10 to 25%.

Mnuchin would have suggested the possibility of offering a tariff elimination for a meeting scheduled on January 30 with the Chinese commercial representative, Liu He, something that the American negotiators, searching for concessions, consider an "ace in the hole," the sources indicate to the WSJ.

Lighthizer, which has previously said that the US should dispense with tariffs only when China honors its promises, it seems to "soften its position" towards the possibility that some tariffs will be eliminated if its country achieves a "strong agreement," the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the Treasury Department said that the offers "are all on the table," that the talks "are far from over" and neither Mnuchin nor Lighthizer have "made any recommendations to anyone regarding the rates or other parts of the negotiation with China. "

After knowing this information, the New York Stock Exchange, which was having a session without firm direction, experienced a rise in its three main indicators. The Industrial Dow Jones advanced at that time by 0.47% or 113 points.

But not only the economic is presented in the hectic agenda of Trump, as this Wednesday corruption rated a little niche, when it was known that a group of 45 representatives of the US House of Representatives asked Trump to punish the Government of Guatemala after the controversy exit of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), dedicated to the fight against corruption.

"We ask him to take urgent measures to defend the rule of law in Guatemala and prevent further destabilization of the region," the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent to the president.

In that letter, led by the Guatemalan democratic legislator Norma Torres who highlighted their concern about the US government lack of action towards "the undemocratic behavior" of the Executive of President Jimmy Morales.

Lawmakers urged Trump to condemn publicly the actions of the Government of Guatemala, suspend the assistance it provides to that country, and punish corrupt public officials with travel restrictions and financial sanctions.

Last year, Morales informed that he would not renew the order of the CICIG, which expired next September, but on January 7 the Guatemalan leader announced his immediate and final end for the alleged "serious violation" of national and international laws by that organization.

Morales' decision was temporarily suspended by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, although his staff has already left the country. "The weak response of the (US) Government to this provocation has emboldened the Executive (Guatemalan) and its allies, who face multiple corruption investigations of both the CICIG and the Guatemalan prosecutors," said the US congressmen.

The sudden departure of the CICIG has caused a great stir at the international level and great world powers have expressed a "deep disappointment" for the unilateral decision of Morales.

The United States is one of the countries that contributes the most funds to the CICIG, with more than 37 million dollars since its creation, as well as collaborating with its work to investigate and dismantle the criminal structures that operate within the State of Guatemala.

After Morales prematurely ceased the CICIG mission, the US Government' response has been rather tenuous and until now is limited to a statement from the US embassy in Guatemala, which urged to "preserve peace" at the time when the atmosphere is tense and polarized.



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