Well, that was quick. Two days after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose 5 percent tariffs on imports from Mexico, which would gradually increase unless Mexico stopped the flow of migrants across the border, the two countries struck a deal. According to the agreement, which was outlined in a joint statement, Mexico will try to curb “irregular” migration by deploying more National Guard troops throughout the country, with a focus on the Guatemala border. The U.S. will expand the implementation of the existing Migrant Protection Protocols along its southern border, meaning that asylum seekers who reach the U.S. will be returned to Mexico while they wait for their claims to be processed. Mexico agreed to allow asylum seekers entrance into Mexico while their U.S asylum claims are adjudicated. The tariffs that were set to be imposed on Mexico on Monday have been “indefinitely suspended.”
Houthis in Saudi Arabia? In a story that we missed earlier this week and hit the English-language press on Thursday, Houthi rebels from Yemen claim to have crossed the Saudi Arabian border on Wednesday and captured 20 Saudi military positions in the south. A Houthi spokesperson said the surprise attack, which was carried out on three fronts, took place over a 72-hour period and killed 200 Saudi troops. While there has been no independent verification of the attack, the Houthi spokesperson also said the group recorded “extensive video footage of the operation which will be broadcast later.” If true, this would be a major escalation in a war that Saudi Arabia has fought hard to keep contained to Yemen.
U.S. tech companies worry about Huawei ban. Google has reportedly warned the Trump administration about security risks if the U.S. reimposes the ban on exports to Huawei, which was suspended when the Trump administration granted a 90-day reprieve to allow U.S. companies to adjust to the new reality. Google is concerned that, if the ban were to go into effect, it would not be able to update its Android operating system on Huawei phones, which could lead Huawei to create a modified version of the operating system that is more vulnerable to being hacked. Google has asked the Commerce Department for an exemption to the ban, joining a growing list of U.S. tech companies that have expressed concern about the ban.
Even more sanctions on Iran. The U.S. is not letting up on its campaign against Iran. On Friday, Washington imposed new sanctions on Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company, Iran’s largest producer of petrochemicals, for providing financial support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Petrochemicals are petrol-based, value-added products that sell for a higher margin than crude oil. The IRGC is highly involved in Iran’s economy, making it difficult to determine where exactly state intervention ends and private enterprise beings. The sanctions, which also included PGPIC’s 39 subsidiary companies, send a clear signal that any part of the economy could be targeted by the U.S. The increasing economic pressure on Iran does seem to be having a major impact on the country; in addition to the major decline in crude oil exports in May to roughly 500,000 barrels per day, its import of oil meal fell sharply last month.
- Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao said his country would not block Huawei from participating in the build-out of Brazil’s 5G network.
- Representatives of PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, said Venezuela’s petrol stocks will be exhausted within a month. According to the representatives, almost all of the country’s oil refineries are nonoperational; the only one left running is the Paraguana complex, which is working at 10 percent.
- Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced that it will soon implement new restrictions on foreign investment in high-tech industries that may affect national security.
- The U.S. has given Turkey a deadline of July 31 to cancel its S-400 deal with Russia. If it does not, the U.S. will not only stop accepting new applications for Turkish pilots to train on the F-35 fighter jet but will also remove Turkish pilots that are currently enrolled in the training program. The U.S. would also cancel agreements with Turkish firms that were subcontracted to produce parts for the F-35.
- The Bank of Italy revised its growth forecast for 2019 from 0.7 percent to 0.3 percent.
- Ethiopia’s prime minister met with Sudan’s opposition leaders, another sign that Ethiopia is aiming to play a greater role in regional affairs in the Horn of Africa.