Trump to impose Mexican import tax
Tensions escalate as president plans tariff to pay for £12bn wall
US President Donald Trump revealed yesterday he plans to make Mexico pay for his hated border wall through an import tariff.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer announced the plan to reporters on Air Force One as Mr Trump flew back from a speech in Philadelphia on Thursday night.
He said the White House was consulting Congress over imposing a 20 per cent import tax, which would pay for the anti-immigrant wall set to cost $12-15 billion (£9.5-12bn).
“By doing that, we can do $10bn a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone,” Mr Spicer said.
Mr Spicer said Mr Trump was looking at taxing imports from all countries the US has trade deficits with, but he added: “Right now we are focused on Mexico.”
But he did not mention whether such a tax would require US withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Mexico and Canada.
Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray responded: “A tax on Mexican imports to the US is not a way to make Mexico pay for the wall, but to a way make the North American consumer pay for it through more expensive avocados, washing machines, televisions.”
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had already cancelled his planned trip to Washington to meet Mr Trump.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday: “It’s far preferable for countries to trade goods and services and bond through investment partnerships than to trade barbs and build barriers.”
And on Thursday Union of South American Nations (Unasur) secretary-general Ernesto Samper condemned the plan “to force the Mexican people to pay for the humiliating wall supposed to be built in order to physically separate Mexico from the United States.”
Mr Trump also praised Miami-Dade county Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who ended the “sanctuary city” policy of not turning over people arrested for being in the country illegally to the Department of Homeland Security for deportation.