(New throughout, adds comments of U.S. lawmakers at conference
By Ernest Scheyder
HOUSTON, March 10 Two top U.S. senators voiced
skepticism on Friday about a possible border tax, worrying it
could boost prices for gasoline and other consumer goods.
President Donald Trump is studying a Republican proposal in
the House of Representatives for a border tax adjustment system
that would levy a 20 percent tax on all imports while exempting
The measure is heavily opposed by Canada, which relies on
the United States as its largest trading partner.
Opponents of the measure say it could do more harm than
good, viewpoints echoed on Friday by John Cornyn of Texas and
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska at the CERAWeek conference in Houston,
the world's largest gathering of energy executives and
"The more I've looked at it, the more I worry the
assumptions upon which it's based are unproven," said Cornyn,
the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. "I also worry about the
politics of this, raising prices on consumers."
Texas and Alaska are large oil producers and any fresh
tariff could harm exports of crude oil and potentially imports
of a myriad consumer goods, concerns both senators said were on
"I'm not really interested in anything that's going to be
increasing the price of gasoline for folks in Alaska," Lisa
Murkowski, chair of the Senate's energy and natural resources
committee, said at the conference.
"It's something we need to look at critically and weigh and
Both senators said they supported changes to the North
American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, but opposed scrapping
"NAFTA has been a benefit to this region of the country and
the country as a whole," said Cornyn. "NAFTA's not a dirty word
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by David Gregorio)