- President Donald Trump reiterated an argument about the wall along with the US-Mexico border during a primetime Oval Office speech.
- Trump argued that Mexico will pay for the border wall “indirectly” via the new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal.
- Most economists and trade experts say that is not the case.
During a President Donald Trump’s newest argument that Mexico would in fact paying for the proposed wall along the US-Mexico border has been rejected by experts and economists.
During Trump’s primetime Oval Office speech on Tuesday, the president reiterated an argument he has adopted during the fight leading up to and during the government shutdown. Mexico, he said, would pay for the wall through the new US-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA), the newly renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico,” Trump said.
Trump first suggested this line of argument during a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders before the start of the government shutdown.
But according to economists and trade experts, it doesn’t make any sense:
- First off, the USMCA is not a done deal. Congress has yet to ratify the deal, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns with various aspects of the agreement.
- Secondly, even if the USMCA does get approved, there is no mention of Mexico paying for a border wall anywhere in the text of the deal. This means the country has no obligation to pay for the wall.
Kenneth Smith Ramos, the chief Mexican negotiator in the USMCA talks, said the deal contains no provision that would require the country to fund the wall.
“Trump says the border wall will be paid for through the new #NAFTA (USMCA),” Smith Ramos tweeted during the speech. “That’s a chapter you will NOT find in the new Agreement, simply because it does NOT exist #MexicoWontPay #factcheckingplease.”
- Third – as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pointed out in a speech in December – if Mexico was going to pay for the wall, there would be no need to allocate funds for the wall as part of a funding bill. Trump remains insistent that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the wall in any package to reopen the government.
“If the president really believes what he tweeted this morning that his new NAFTA would pay for the wall, he wouldn’t be threatening to shut down the government unless American taxpayers pay for the wall,” Schumer said on December 13. “He can’t have it both ways.”
So while it’s pretty clear that no money from the Mexican government will go toward a wall, as Trump originally promised during the 2016 campaign, the president is now arguing that Mexico will pay indirectly through increased trade and economic growth.
But most economists don’t expect the USMCA to boost economic growth much, mostly because the deal is so similar to the existing NAFTA deal. Additionally trade experts have said that, if anything, the deal is now more restrictive in terms of trade with Mexico, and the effect on the bilateral trade deficit will be negligible.