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Trump keeps messing with Mexico; to tax Mexican import to fund wall

January 27, 2017 09:28 IST

"It is time that the American people had a president fighting as hard for its citizens as other countries do for theirs, and that's exactly what I'm going to do for you. Believe me," says US President Donald Trump.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's decision to cancel his planned trip to the United States next week was mutually agreed upon, US President Donald Trump has said stating that such a meeting would be "fruitless unless Mexico is going to treat America fairly".

"The President of Mexico and myself have agreed to cancel our planned meeting scheduled for next week," Trump said in his remarks at Republican retreat in Philadelphia.

"Unless Mexico is going to treat the US fairly with respect, such a meeting would be fruitless and I want to go in different route. We have no choice," he said.

"Border security is a serious, serious national issue and problem. A lack of security poses a substantial threat to the sovereignty and safety of the United States of America and its citizens," Trump said.

"Most illegal immigration is coming from our southern border. I've said many times that the American people will not pay for the wall. I've made that clear to the government of Mexico," he asserted.

The North American Free Trade Agreement, he said, has been a terrible deal, a total disaster for the US from its inception, costing us as much as $60 billion a year with Mexico alone in trade deficits.

"You say, who negotiates these deals? Not to mention, millions of jobs and thousands and thousands of factories and plants closing down all over our country," he said.

"On top of that are the trillions of dollars the US taxpayers have spent to pay the costs of illegal immigration. Much of it is then been sent back, and much of it goes back to other countries, and oftentimes because they don't respect us, the other countries will not accept the criminals that we send back to them that are illegally in our country," Trump said.

"I promise you, they will start accepting them again, quickly. We are not going to them any longer," he said amidst applause from the audience.

"I will not allow the taxpayers or the citizens of the US to pay the costs of this defective transaction, NAFTA, one that should have been renegotiated many years ago except the politicians were too preoccupied to do so. Now these people are not in that category, you understand. This is a different group. I think," Trump said.

Trump said his administration is working on a tax reform bill that will reduce trade deficits, increase American exports and will generate revenue from Mexico that will pay for the wall if the US decides to go that route.

"It is time that the American people had a president fighting as hard for its citizens as other countries do for theirs, and that's exactly what I'm going to do for you. Believe me," he said.

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20 percent tax on Mexican imports to fund wall

President Trump is seeking to impose a 20 per cent tax on imports from countries which has a trade deficit with the US like Mexico in order to finance the construction of a border wall along its southern border, the White House said.

This is one of the way to pay for the wall that the US is planning to construct along the US-Mexico border. However the proposal is currently only for Mexico, White
House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters travelling with the Trump from Philadelphia to Washington DC abroad Air Force One.

"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," Spicer said.

"If you tax that $50 billion at 20 per cent of imports, which is by the way a practice that 160 other countries do -– right now, our country's policy is to tax
exports and let imports flow freely in, which is ridiculous. By doing it that way we can do USD 10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone," Spicer said.

"Right now we are focused on Mexico, but I think as we look comprehensively at our trade situation and countries that we have a deficit for, this is something the president has been talking about holistically," he said.

"He has talked about a border tax. In particular companies that move out, ship things back in. But in this case, this really handles, is focused more on the immigration piece," Spicer said.

"Remember, keep in mind there are 160 other countries that do just this. We are one of the only major countries, in fact probably the only major country that doesn't treat imports this way," Spicer said.

"In fact, we currently tax exports, not imports. This gets us in line frankly with the policies that the other countries around the world treat our products," he said.

"If you think about what a border tax on imports from countries like Mexico that we have a huge trade deficit does, that's really going to provide the funding," he added.

"But the other net positive that you have to realise is that through the wall, not only do we secure our border but I think we are going to save additional money that we would have had to spend on tracking down illegal immigrants and on immigration," Spicer said making a strong case for a physical barrier across the US-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Spicer said the 20 per cent tax plan to be imposed on imports from countries with trade deficit like Mexico was in early stages and nothing has been finalised yet.

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'A remarkable first week in office'

President Trump's first week in office has been remarkable so far with busy meetings and engagements, a top advisor has said.

"This has been a pretty remarkable week in just four work days. We have had wage-boosting, job-creating measures. We have had manufacturing CEOs from all over the country here, really premier job creators, really heeding the president's call to try to have an explosion in manufacturing in our nation," Kellyanne Conway, Trump's senior advisor told PBS News in an interview.

"Then on the very same day, we had the labour union leaders, along with laborers themselves here at the White House, talking about what it means for them be a carpenter, a pipe fitter, a plumber, a steelworker, like the many men I grew up with in South Jersey outside of Philadelphia," she said.

"They said that they had never been invited to the White House before, Democratic or Republican. They felt so included that they're part of the national conversation," she said.

Trump has issued executive orders withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), so that the US would have bilateral trade agreements in the future that benefit the US and its workers and its allies and its interests.

"So, it's been a very busy week. We're very happy to have our first foreign leader tomorrow, Prime Minister Theresa May, here, meeting with President Trump," Conway said.

Responding to a question on reported move of the administration to impose tax on import of goods from Mexico, she said this is just one idea.

"That is one of the many methods by which to pay for the wall (US-Mexico border). It is one proposal on the table. Certainly, there are others," Conway said.

"When you consider the price tag for this wall, which will be a physical wall constructed on the southern border, let's contrast that to the billions and billions that we spend on benefits for and accommodating illegal immigrants," she said.

America, she said, spends billions of dollars protecting the borders of other countries around the world.

"It's high time we start protecting our own. We're a sovereign nation. And as President Trump has said all along, made a centerpiece of his campaign from day one, we have to stop the flow of people and drugs over our borders,” she said.

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The US media here is the opposition party

Meanwhile, a top Trump advisor has asked the mainstream media in the US to keep its mouth shut as the news organisations have been "humiliated" by the general elections results and he repeatedly described them as "the opposition party" of the current administration.

"The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while," Stephen K Bannon, Chief White House Strategist for President Donald Trump told The New York Times in a conference call.

"I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the US," Bannon said.

Bannon, who played a key role in the victory of Trump last November said that the elite media got it all wrong covering the campaign.

"The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 per cent dead wrong," Bannon said calling it "a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away, that will always be there."

"The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone associated with following our campaign," Bannon said.

"Look at the Twitter feeds of those people: they were outright activists of the Clinton campaign. You were humiliated," he alleged.

"The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work. You're the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. You're the opposition party. The media is the opposition party," he said.

"The paper of record for our beloved republic, The New York Times, should be absolutely ashamed and humiliated. They got it 100 per cent wrong," Bannon said.

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