“The wall just got 10 feet higher.”
That was presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s response to former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s much publicized comment last week: “I’m not going to pay for that f------ wall.”
Similar, but rather less rudimentary observations about the border wall that Trump vows he will build and “make Mexico pay for” came from Felipe Calderon, another former president, and current Foreign Relations Minister Claudia Ruiz Masseiu. “It is impossible to think of a 2,000-mile border being walled off and trade between our two countries stopped … frankly, it is not an intelligent thing to do,” she is reported to have said during a meeting with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden this week.
When it comes down to numbers, the businessman in Trump might have second thoughts about adding another ten feet to a wall that, according to a CNN investigation, could cost around 10.5 billion dollars.
Given that this country will not meekly hand over such a sum, Trump has suggested other ways to force Mexico’s hand. He has said he would increase fees on temporary visas for Mexican chief executives, diplomats and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) workers, impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages and increase fees at ports of entry from Mexico. Foreign aid cuts and tariffs on imports would also be considered, Trump has hinted.
The very word tariffs should send shock waves through the offices of entrepreneurs on both sides of the border. Does Trump believe Mexico would not reciprocate by slapping tariffs on U.S. products? As former Mexican ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan recently pointed out: What about the US$1.4 billion a day in bilateral trade between the two nations, and the fact that 26 U.S. states have Mexico as their number one trading partner? And why would you threaten the eight million jobs in the United States that depend directly on trade with Mexico?
The circus carries on …