A senior Mexican government official has warned that forcing the country to pay the United States in taxes for the construction of a border wall could trigger a global recession.
Mexico’s economy minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, said on Friday that Donald Trump’s proposed border tax “was a problem for the entire world” and that it “would have a wave of impacts that could take us into a global recession”.
The US presidential campaign, which culminated with Trump’s surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, was steeped in protectionist rhetoric, shaking Mexico’s government.
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Trump, who takes office in less than a week, has promised a “major border tax” on companies that shift jobs outside the US, and called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada a “disaster”, threatening to tear it up in the hope of bringing jobs back to the US.
“It is clear we need to be prepared to immediately neutralise the impact of such a measure,” Guajardo told local broadcaster Televisa.
Guajardo also warned that the US risked harming its own interests in any renegotiation of NAFTA.
“We are the second-largest buyer of US products. We are the biggest customers for pork, corn and fructose. All the states that voted for Trump would be the hardest hit if the agreement with Mexico is broken.”
Trump has repeatedly attacked Mexico over trade, jobs and immigration since he first launched his run for the White House in 2015.
Amid his constant scathing tweets, the peso currency has fallen to historic lows, unnerving investors in Latin America’s second largest economy.
In his first news conference as president-elect, Trump maintained that he would be able to get Mexico to pay for the wall, eventually, despite flat rejections from Mexican government officials. But he said he would rather start building the wall as soon as possible, rather than getting into negotiations with Mexico.
“Mexico, in some form – and there are many different forms – will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen. Whether it’s a tax or whether it’s a payment,” Trump said.
The US government has already built fencing along roughly one-third of the 3,100km southern border.