China has become an "existential threat" to the United States, but Mexico is a close ally, economist Stephen Moore said Friday, and he's a "bit puzzled" and a "little bit nervous" about President Donald Trump's use of tariffs to push Mexico into taking action on border crossings and other issues.
"I think China is a menace increasingly from economic and security standpoint to the United States, but I'm a bit puzzled, frankly, about this new action against Mexico," Moore told Fox Business' "Mornings with Maria." "I'm puzzled frankly about this new action against Mexico. I think the timing is wrong."
While the country wants to isolate China, putting tariffs against Mexico when the United States wants to pass the Canada-Mexico trade agreement (USMCA) "seems to run counter to that," Moore added. "I'm hoping this is a tactic that Donald Trump is using to go try to get Mexico to be cooperative on the border, which we all want, but I'm a little bit nervous about the new tactic."
Moore also said he's concerned that tariffs will be used as a retaliatory measure against countries when there is a dispute, and he doesn't like that approach because he supports free trade.
Americans agree with getting tough with China, he added, noting he's always advised the White House to try to isolation the nation as a "bad actor." However, Mexico is "not a security threat," but instead is one of the "great allies" and he questions using tariffs against it.
Moore also said he agrees with lawmakers such as Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who called Trump's plan a misuse of presidential tariff authority.
"I think the senators make a good point," said Moore. "If we are going to impose tariffs on Mexico, shouldn't Congress be the one that enacts that? This is a legitimate gripe that some in Congress have about the use of executive power."
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