Trump’s economic brinksmanship

President Donald Trump’s brand of economic brinksmanship is nerve-wracking, but it seems to have worked in his push to get Mexico to do more to stem the flow of Central American migrants heading through their country to the U.S.

Trump made the extraordinary threat of slapping a 5 percent tariff on goods from Mexico unless Mexico did more to address the problem. For the U.S. consumers who have been paying the cost of the tariffs, it was a little like being strapped to the front bumper of the car while Trump was playing chicken with the Mexican government.

But Friday, Trump announced that a deal with Mexico has been reached, and that the tariffs that were due to go into effect today were on indefinite hold. We’re not sure how effective the Mexican government’s measures will be in slowing the advance of migrants trying to cross our southern border, but anything they do will be helpful.

We hope that the president doesn’t decide this tactics of threatening tariffs to get his way with other countries is a great way of conducting foreign affairs, however. The downsides are considerable — the approval of the new Mexican and Canadian trade deal is still waiting to get through the Senate, and this standoff with Mexico threatened to hold it up.

It worked this time. It may not work the next time.

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