The Republican tycoon proposed an import tax to lawmakers as a way of financing the 2,000-mile barrier along the southern border after Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled his trip to the US.
Trump tweeted to say the Mexican president should not come if his country was “unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall”.
Donald Trump has suggested a unprecedented tax on Mexican imports to fund the border wall
Right now our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer
US consumers buy around £48.5billion ($61billion) more goods from Mexico each year than Mexicans do from the US, resulting in a huge trade deficit.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said: “If you tax that $50 billion at 20 percent of imports, which is by the way a practice that 160 other countries do… We can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone.
The Mexico Wall: Trump gives the go ahead
Thu, January 26, 2017
The structures, fences and walls that mark the border between the United States and Mexico as President Donald Trump reiterates his promise to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
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Combo with images of the border fence between Mexico and the U.S. taken in the states of Sonora and Baja California, Mexico, and in the states of Arizona and California, U.S., between July 2, 2016 and January 25, 2017.
“That’s really going to provide the funding.”
Spicer later backtracked on his original statement and claimed it was just one of a number of ideas about how the wall will be financed.
He conceded: “There’s nothing to roll out so the idea of asking for details on something, we’re not there yet.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer has faced tough questions after Trump's whirlwind start as President
“It could be a multitude of things. Instead of 20 percent. It could be 18, it could be five.
While House Speaker Paul Ryan has previously claimed other Republicans would not get behind the idea of a new trade tariff on Mexican imports, Spicer appeared to suggest plans a 20 per cent tax rate had taken shape.
He said: “When you look at the plan that’s taking shape now, using comprehensive tax reform as a means to tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico.
A stretch of the existing wall between the two countries
“It clearly provides the funding and does so in a way that the American taxpayer is wholly respected.
“Right now our country’s policy is to tax exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous.
“We are probably the only major country that doesn’t treat imports this way.”
Mexican president Nieto cancelled his meeting with Trump as tensions between the countries grow
After President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday which paved the way for construction to begin “immediately”, House Speaker Ryan told reporters the wall could cost almost £12billion ($15billion).
Ryan said: “We are going to finance the Secure Fence Act, which is the construction of a physical barrier on the border.
“As far as the offset, we’re going to wait and see from the administration what their supplemental looks like.”