Mexico warns US over border wall funding

Mexico City, Feb 25 (IANS) Mexico has warned the US against imposing a unilateral tax on Mexican imports to finance a border wall, saying it could respond in kind.

Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the government could place tariffs on selected goods from US states reliant on exports to Mexico, BBC reported on Saturday.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump vowed to start building the wall “soon, way ahead of schedule”. The US government said it will start accepting design proposals in March.

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency said it will ask companies to submit proposals “for the design and build of several prototype wall structures” on or around March 6.

A shortlist of the best designs will be drawn up by March 20, after which bidders will be asked to cost their ideas, the report said.

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Congress (CPAC) in Maryland on Friday, Trump vowed to always put American citizens first and build a “great, great border wall”.

“We’re building the wall,” he said. “In fact it’s going to start very soon. Way ahead of schedule. It’s way, way, way ahead of schedule.”

Trump had pledged that Mexico will pay for the wall, which could cost up to $21.5 billion, according to media reports citing a Department of Homeland Security internal report. Trump had also proposed to levy a 20 per cent tax on Mexican imports to pay for a border wall.

In a radio interview on Friday, the Mexican Foreign Minister said that “Mexico believes in free trade”, but “would have to respond” if the US tried to fund a border wall by imposing a tax on Mexican imports.

“What we cannot do is remain with our arms crossed,” he said.

“Mexico will face this as a reality and not just as a rhetorical threat because we have realised that rhetorical threats come and go.”

According to reports, the foreign minister had previously identified US states including Iowa, Texas and Wisconsin as possible targets for retaliatory tariffs.