United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said he had struck a “very fair deal” on imported motorcycles with India last year, by getting it to slash import duty to 50% in “just two minutes”. However, he complained about India’s “high tariffs” on the import of American whisky, PTI reported.
In February, India had slashed the customs duty on imported motorcycles such as those of Harley Davidson and Triumph after Trump threatened to impose retaliatory taxes. He had said the US charges no tax on Indian bike imports, and that India’s new tax was an example of “unfair” trade practices.
Trump had first brought up the matter soon after taking office, during his inaugural address to a joint sitting of the US Congress in 2017. He had not named India then, but said the tariff on Harley-Davidson was so high that it put the brand at a disadvantage against its competition.
On Thursday, at an interaction with US lawmakers at the White House about the Reciprocal Trade Act, Trump spoke about non-reciprocal tariffs from several countries. “Look at motorcycles as an example,” the president was quoted as saying. “[In] India, it was 100%. I got them down to 50%, just by talking for about two minutes. It’s still 50% vs 2.4% [on import of motorcycles to the US]. Again, other than that, it’s a very fair deal.”
However, he claimed, “India has a very high tariff”. “They charge a lot of tariffs. You look at whisky...India gets 150%, we get nothing,” he said.
Under the Reciprocal Trade Act, the US can impose tariffs equal to those of a foreign nation if that country’s tariffs for a particular product are lower than those charged by the United States. While the US has lower tariffs than most other countries, increasing them and changing it country-wise would be a violation of the World Trade Organization’s rules, according to Reuters. Republican lawmaker Sean Duffy introduced the Reciprocal Trade Act on Thursday.
Trump claimed the Reciprocal Trade Act will give American workers a “fair and level-playing field”. He was expected to highlight it at the State of the Union address, which has now been delayed due to the ongoing government shutdown.
Trump said on Thursday that other countries were taking advantage of the US. “They charge us tariffs and taxes, the likes of which nobody has any understanding,” he said. “They are so high and so unfair! They also have barriers where we can’t go in. They have trade barriers that make it impossible for us to sell our farm products and our other products.”
“Whether they think we’re very nice or not so smart, they’ve been doing it for many, many years and we want to end it,” he added. “Many of these are friends, many of these are allies...but, sometimes, allies take advantage of us even more so than our non-allies.”
“Whatever the tariff for a foreign country is, we place the same tariff on us,” Trump was quoted as saying. “What’s going to happen, I think, from a practical standpoint, is they won’t be charging us tariffs anymore. We’ll see. Or we’ll charge them a lot. Tremendous amount of money.”