White House Floats 20% Tax on Imports to Pay for Mexican Wall

A U.S. Border Patrol agent is seen from Mexico through the fence along the US-Mexico border / AP

White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested Thursday the United States could pass on the cost of President Donald Trump's southern border wall by imposing a 20 percent tax on Mexican imports.

Spicer told reporters aboard Air Force One the tax would raise $10 billion a year for a wall that is expected to cost between $8 billion and $20 billion.

Spicer clarified to NBC News that the suggestion was an example of how to pay for the border wall, not a definitive proposal from the administration.

The proposed tax would not affect only Mexico. Spicer suggested the 20 percent tax could be applied against any country that has a trade surplus with the United States. It could be implemented as part of a comprehensive tax reform package.

Spicer's comments arrived hours after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto cancelled a visit to the United States in response to Trump's executive order directing federal funds to construction of a wall along the southern border.