US President Donald Trump and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto have spoken on the telephone following the cancellation of a meeting between the pair in a dispute over payment of a border wall.
Mexico's president on Thursday scrapped a planned summit with Donald Trump in the face of insistent tweets from the U.S. president demanding Mexico pay for a border wall, a spat that threatens Mexican efforts to salvage trade ties.
Insisting it was a mutual decision, Trump said early this morning it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting with president Peña Nieto if Mexico was "unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall".
In only a week, Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific partnership trade deal, cleared the way for the construction of two controversial oil pipelines and issued an executive order to make it easier to detain and deport undocumented immigrants.
The import tax plan would "easily" fund the wall, Spicer said.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the tax reform bill could involve a 20 percent tariff on imports from countries where the United States has a deficit.
US taxpayers initially would foot the bill for the wall, which is expected to cost as much as $15 billion.
"Everybody from the largest retailer down to the smallest retailer has looked at their books and this is unworkable for retailers, and ultimately the consumer is going to be the one who pays the price", he said.
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President Donald Trump kept up his criticism of Mexico on Friday, saying it "has taken advantage of the United States for long enough", as a crisis over border security and trade deepened. Ordinary Mexicans responded to what was an obvious diplomatic insult by strongly suggesting Peña Nieto cancel his January 31 Washington, D.C. meeting with Trump.
US House of Representative Republicans are weighing a plan that would exempt export revenues from taxation, but impose a 20 percent tax on imported goods.
During that meeting, the Mexican president made clear the position he's reiterating now.
"We are a proud nation", he said.
As their elected leader, at least for the next 18 months, Enrique Pena Nieto was left with little option but to deliver that message to the White House - by not going there in person.
Making Mexico pay for it was one of his key election campaign pledges.
Mexico was the third largest USA trading partner with $482 billion in goods trade past year up to November.