Mexico City (AFP) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador played down on Thursday his counterpart Donald Trump's decision to temporarily halt immigration to the United States, saying it wouldn't affect business between the neighboring countries.
"We need each other. As it is, the border can never be completely closed because there's a level of integration that makes it indispensable to keep it open," said Lopez Obrador in his daily morning press briefing.
On Wednesday, Trump signed a decree temporarily limiting immigration to the United States, ostensibly to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
"There are exceptional circumstances. Trump himself has recognized that in many cases, United States farmers need Mexican workers," added Lopez Obrador.
The leftist leader also revealed his government was analyzing how it would coordinate with the US to reactivate border business, particularly in the automotive industry, once COVID-19 lockdown measures are lifted.
Automotive companies from both sides of the border on Wednesday urged Lopez Obrador to approve essential activities between the two countries in order to reopen the industry, avoid damage to the economy and maintain supply chains during the pandemic.
He added that "in order to begin economic activities," the US "needs to consider what it produces in Mexico and that it forms part of its manufacturing chain."
The automotive export industry in Mexico employs one million citizens, Lopez Obrador said.
Business between the US and Mexico was worth more than $575 billion in 2019. The US is Mexico's largest export partner.
By Wednesday, Mexico had registered 10,500 coronavirus cases and just under 1,000 deaths. The US is the worst affected country in the world with close to 50,000 deaths and more than 850,000 cases.