March 21, 2020 / 5:52 PM / 2 months ago

U.S., Mexico agree on importance of trade despite border restrictions

A general view shows an almost empty Mexico-U.S. San Ysidro border crossing after the U.S. and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel over their shared border to limit the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Tijuana, Mexico March 21, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

WASHINGTON, MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, agreed on Saturday on the importance of preserving bilateral trade and critical services, despite U.S.-Mexico border restrictions to fight the coronavirus, a White House spokesman said.

“The two leaders discussed the coronavirus pandemic and the close United States-Mexico cooperation on efforts to combat the virus,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere after the two leaders spoke by telephone.

“President Trump and President Lopez Obrador agreed on the importance of preserving trade and critical services, regardless of travel restrictions,” Deere said, referring to an agreement to limit movement across the United States-Mexico border to essential travel only.

Lopez Obrador took to Twitter to thank Trump for not closing the shared border and proposed speeding up implementation of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in order to boost economic recovery in the countries.

Trump said on Friday the United States would swiftly return any migrants who attempt to enter the country illegally, from Mexico or Canada, while closing both U.S. borders to “non-essential” travel to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Trump also said the United States and Mexico would work to keep commerce moving as much as possible across the border to try to limit disruptions to business and commerce.

Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Anthony Esposito in Mexico City; Editing by Tom Brown

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