Former President of the United States of America Donald Trump, who remains the Repuplican frontrunner for presidential candidature in 2024, has vowed “retribution” tariff on Indian products sold in the US, if he returns to the White House.
Trump’s ratings have been hit by the pile of legal cases that he faces — they range from financial fraud and sexual harassment to misuse of classified documents. The former president is expected to surrender himself to the authorities at Fulton County Jail, in the state of Georgia, this week. There is much speculation on whether or not he would do any actual jail time and if his election campaign could continue from prison.
If he is named the Republican presidential candidate and manages to return to power next year, the 77-year-old Trump plans to slap high taxes on Indian products marketed in America as a tit-for-tat measure against the taxes imposed by India on American and other foreign-made products in its own market.
According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), during his first term as the US president, Trump had described India as a “tariff king” and, in May 2019, he terminated India’s preferential market access — Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) — to the United States. He alleged at the time that India had not given the United States of America “equitable and reasonable access to its markets”.
In his latest comments, Trump said that India hit American-made goods such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles with high tariffs in the Indian market — unless a foreign company’s product manufacturing plant was in India — but wanted a zero-tariff privilege for Indian-made goods in the American market.
Quoting his words from an interview with Larry Kudlow of Fox Business News, PTI reported that Trump said, “The other thing I want to have is a matching tax where, if India charges us… India is very big with tariffs. I mean, I saw it with Harley-Davidson. I was saying, how do you do in a place like India? Oh, no good sir. Why? They have 100 per cent and 150 per cent and 200 per cent tariffs.”
Elaborating on this motorcycle theme, the former president said in the interview, “So, I said, so they can sell their Indian motorbike. They actually make a bike, an Indian motorbike. They can sell that into our country with no tax, no tariff, but when you make a Harley, when you send it over there [to India]… they were doing no business. I said, how come you don’t do business with India? The tariff is so high that nobody wants it. But what they want us to do is, they want us to go over and build a plant, and then you have no tariff.”
Both India and Brazil, two big global markets, were “very big” on tariffs, said Trump.
He recalled an earlier conversation with the then US Senator from Pennsylvania: “I said, let me ask you a question. If India is charging us 200 per cent, and we’re charging them nothing for products, can we charge them 100 per cent? No, sir, that’s not free trade. Can we charge them 50 per cent? No, sir. Twenty-five, 10, anything? No. I said, what the hell is wrong? There’s something wrong. You know what I’m talking about.”
Trump said in the TV interview what he plans to do: “If India is charging us too, so what I want to have is a… call it retribution. You could call it whatever you want. If they are charging us, we charge them.”
—With inputs from the Press Trust of India