The United States Mexico Canada Agreement, a trade deal which replaced NAFTA earlier this year, is already paying for a proposed border wall on the southern border due to the immense savings the deal has created, according to President Donald Trump.
The president tweeted as much on Wednesday morning, although some experts are skeptical about whether his assertions are true or not.
“Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S.,” Trump said in his tweet.
The president also reiterated his calls for a border wall, suggesting he could build it using funds from the military.
“Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!” Trump said.
Democratic lawmakers, including incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have taken issue with Trump’s assertions about the trade deal paying for the proposed border wall. Pelosi specifically stated that the White House is an “evidence-free zone” for making the suggestion.
“Basically what [Trump’s] saying, any benefit that our economy might have from a revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada would be spent on the wall instead of growing our economy and increasing paychecks for our workers,” Pelosi said last week, according to reporting from the Hill. “The American people are still paying the price. Mexico is not paying for this wall.”
The White House is directing every agency to find money that could be used to finance a border wall. But that's not so easy. Or legal. https://t.co/fn2KrY3gKP— Damian Paletta (@damianpaletta) December 18, 2018
The official line from the administration seems to be shifting in the direction that Trump had tweeted on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trump’s previous comments to the same effect, stating that “the USMCA deal would provide additional revenue through the deal that would show that Mexico is paying for the wall,” according to reporting from CNBC.
Trump had made a campaign pledge in 2016 as a candidate for president stating that, not only would a border wall be built, but that Mexico would pay for it in full. That promise has shifted many times and presently includes the caveat that “payments” would come through the trade deal.
Administration officials can’t explain in detail, however, how that would work exactly. And experts have stated that the idea that the trade deal could fund the wall’s construction is fuzzy math, to say the least.
“I expect essentially zero change in revenue collected from tariffs arising through the USMCA,” according to Chad Bown, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “Under both the existing NAFTA and President Trump’s proposed new deal, the United States charges zero tariffs on trade with Canada and Mexico.”