US President Donald Trump could seek a 20 percent tax on goods from Mexico to meet the costs of building a wall on the southern border, the White House said on Thursday.
The president wants the measure to be part of a broader tax overhaul package that the US Congress is contemplating, spokesman Sean Spicer said, according to Reuters.
A 20 percent tax could generate about US$10 billion in tax revenue per year, Spicer said.
“We have a new tax at $50 billion at 20 percent of imports -which is, by the way, a practice that 160 other countries do right now,” the white House spokesman was quoted as saying.
“Our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous,” Spicer told reporters traveling with Trump to Philadelphia.
The plan was announced just after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto cancelled a visit to Washington amid a row over Trump’s demand that Mexico pay for the border wall.
Pena Nieto wrote on Twitter that he was pulling out of the planned meeting with Trump in Washington next week.
He was responding to an earlier tweet from Trump who said it would be better for the Mexican leader not to come if Mexico would not pay for the wall.
Trump later presented the scrapped plan as a mutual agreement.
Addressing Republican members of Congress at a meeting in Philadelphia, he said he and Pena Nieto had agreed to cancel the meeting, adding it would be fruitless if Mexico did not treat the US “fairly”.
“I’ve said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall,” Trump told the gathering.
“Unless Mexico is going to treat the United States fairly, with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go a different route.”
Trump views the wall, a major promise during his election campaign, as part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration.
Trump, who took office last week, signed an executive order for construction of the wall on Wednesday, just as a Mexican delegation arrived at the White House for talks with Trump aides aimed at healing ties.
The timing of that, and Trump’s reiterated call for Mexico to foot the bill, caused outrage in Mexico, Reuters noted.
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