Trump's plans for 20% tax on imports causes concern in Asia

27 January 2017

Talks of a possible 20 per cent tax on imports to the US have become a major cause of concern in Asia, where exports to the US drive many economies.

However, reaction to the news was more muted than it might have been with much of the region closed for lunar new year holidays.

Japanese officials today said they hoped to meet with US officials soon. According to finance minister Taro Aso, Japan needed to ''thoroughly explain'' how its companies had been contributing to US society, including creating jobs.

''It would be important to exchange opinions to accurately convey the reality and establish a steady relationship,'' Aso told reporters.

According to president Donald Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer, the 20-per cent tax was among several options to finance building a wall along the southern US border with Mexico, though no decision had been taken.

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto scrapped a scheduled trip to Washington next week over the issue saying he flatly rejected Trump's assertion that Mexico would pay for the wall on its border.

The peso was down 0.6 per cent against the US dollar, to 21.35 pesos to the dollar but recovered to about 21.23 late today in Asia. The Japanese yen also weakened against the dollar, to 115.23 from yesterday's close of 114.46.

Meanwhile, Mexico's foreign minister Luis Videgaray said such a tax would make Mexican imports more expensive for US consumers and they would end up paying for the wall.

Earlier this week, Trump signed an executive order to create a wall along the 2,000-mile (3,200km) US-Mexico border.

Videgaray said yesterday, "A tax on Mexican imports to the United States is not a way to make Mexico pay for the wall, but a way to make the North American consumer pay for it through more expensive avocados, washing machines, televisions.''

He further stressed that paying for Trump's wall "is not negotiable" for Mexico.

Earlier on Thursday, Spicer said a 20 per cent tax could generate approximately $10 billion in tax revenue per year.

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