Washington: Determined to wall off America’s border with Mexico, President Donald Trump triggered a diplomatic clash and a fresh fight over trade Thursday as the White House proposed a 20 per cent tax on imports from the key US ally and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto abruptly scrapped next week’s trip to Washington.
The swift fallout signaled a remarkable souring of relations between Washington and one of its most important international partners just days into the new administration. The US and Mexico conduct some $1.6 billion a day in cross-border trade, and cooperate on everything from migration to anti-drug enforcement to major environmental issues.
At the heart of the dispute is Trump’s insistence that Mexico will pay for construction of the massive wall he has promised along the southern US border. Trump on Wednesday formally ordered construction of the wall.
The plan was a centerpiece of Trump’s election campaign, though he never specified how Mexico would fund the project or how he would compel payments if Pena Nieto’s government refused.
The two leaders had been scheduled to discuss the matter at the White House next week. But Pena Nieto took to Twitter Thursday to say he had informed the White House he would not be coming.