US President Donald Trump said on Monday that he will push for a “reciprocal tax” against countries that levy tariffs on American products, revisiting a theme he outlined during his 2016 presidential campaign.
“We cannot continue to let people come into our country and rob us blind and charge us tremendous tariffs and taxes and we charge them nothing,” Trump said at the White House, Reuters reports.
The US loses “vast amounts of money with China and Japan and South Korea and so many other countries … It’s a little tough for them because they’ve gotten away with murder for 25 years. But we’re going to be changing policy,” he said an at event to announce a proposed infrastructure plan.
Trump said his administration will impose a “reciprocal tax” to charge other countries – “some of them are so-called allies but they’re not allies on trade.”
During his populist 2016 presidential campaign, Trump railed at countries that had trade surpluses “taking advantage of the United States”.
On Monday, Trump cited motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson as an example of the problem of unfair trade. Harley is building a factory in Thailand, partly because its US-built bikes face a 60 percent tariff there.
Trump did not specify how such a tax will be structured, or whether he meant that US tariff rates should be raised to equal to those charged by other major trading partners, Reuters noted.
It was also unclear whether Trump was reviving the idea of a border adjustment tax, an idea rejected by congressional Republicans in last year’s tax reform effort.
During the infrastructure event, the US president asked his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, if he agreed with the idea of a reciprocal tax
Ross said, “sure,” and proceeded to say that the US for too long had offered trade concessions to other countries that were no longer needed, Reuters reports.
“Well, we gave away so much unilaterally that we really have to claw it back,” Ross was quoted as saying.
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