Wednesday 21 March 2018

Tax on Mexican imports would 'easily pay for the wall', says Trump spokesman

Mexico border fence that passes through his property in Brownsville, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Eric Gay, File
Mexico border fence that passes through his property in Brownsville, Texas. Photo: AP Photo/Eric Gay, File Newsdesk Newsdesk

US president Donald Trump wants to pay for his proposed southern border wall by slapping a 20pc tax on imports from Mexico.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Mr Trump has discussed the idea with congressional leaders and wants to include the measure in a comprehensive tax reform package.

Mr Spicer spoke to reporters on Air Force One as Mr Trump flew back from a Republican retreat in Philadelphia.

He said that taxing imports from Mexico would generate 10 billion dollars (£7.9 billion) a year and "easily pay for the wall".

Mr Spicer said discussions are continuing with politicians to make sure the plan is "done right".

But he said it "clearly provides funding" for the wall.

Earlier today Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto has said he will not attend a planned meeting with his US counterpart Donald Trump.

This comes hours after Mr Trump tweeted that the January 31 meeting in Washington should be cancelled if Mexico will not pay for his planned US-Mexican border wall.

Mr Pena Nieto's message on Twitter ended days of uncertainty about what he would do.

Earlier, Mr Trump had tweeted that if Mexico is unwilling to pay for a wall along the US border, "then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting".

The developments come the day after the US president said he will jump-start construction of a the wall and cut federal grants for immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities", as well as boosting the number of border control agents and immigration officers.

Mr Trump is due to his first appearance before Republican House and Senate members since taking office to coordinate on a shared agenda during the party's annual policy retreat.

The US leader also plans to sign an executive action commissioning a probe into allegations of widespread voter fraud, according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Mr Trump plans additional actions on Friday, but Mr Spicer said the agenda for the day has still to be decided.

The president is also expected to take steps, possibly as soon as this week, to restrict the flow of refugees into the United States.

He is also considering plans to negotiate individual trade deals with the countries which have signed onto the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact. Mr Trump took steps earlier in the week to withdraw the US from TPP, which he said puts American workers at a disadvantage.

It was also announced that the chief of the US Border Patrol has left the agency, officials said.

Staff at the agency, which is in charge of securing America's borders with Mexico and Canada, have been told that Mark Morgan is no longer in the job.

It is not immediately clear whether Mr Morgan resigned or was asked to leave.

Mr Morgan's departure comes a day after US president Donald Trump announced plans to build a wall at the Mexican border and hire 5,000 Border Patrol agents.

Press Association

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