(RFE/RL) — The White House says U.S. President Donald Trump is calling for a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico to pay for his proposed southern border wall.
The announcement by the White House on January 26 came hours after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said he would not travel to the United States to meet with Trump amid rising diplomatic tensions over Trump’s plan to build a wall on the border and force Mexico to pay for it.
Pena Nieto announced on Twitter on January 26 that his office had informed the White House that he would not attend the meeting with Trump that was planned for January 31 in Washington.
Earlier on January 26, Trump said on Twitter that “it would be better” for Pena Nieto to cancel the upcoming meeting “if Mexico is unwilling to pay” for building the wall along the entire southern border of the United States.
Pena Nieto’s Twitter response said: “Mexico reiterates its willingness to work with the United States to reach accords that favor both nations.”
Trump said later on January 26 that the decision to cancel the meeting was mutual.
He said “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. I have no choice.”
The White House then announced his intention to impose a 20 percent import tax on goods from Mexico.
On January 25, Trump ordered officials to begin to “plan, design, and construct a physical wall” along the 3,200-kilometer U.S.-Mexican border.
Trump vowed during the presidential election campaign that he would make Mexico pay for the wall – something that Mexico’s leaders insist will not happen.