President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with state and local officials about infrastructure in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

‘Canada does not treat us right’ says Trump

Trump says ‘Canada does not treat us right’ as he threatens new global tax

President Donald Trump is complaining about Canadian trade practices while threatening some as-yet-undefined international tax that has revived fears he might be contemplating new American import penalties.

The U.S. president made the remarks at the White House on Monday while unveiling a long-awaited infrastructure plan. During a lengthy session with reporters, he complained about countries considered allies of the U.S.

He mentioned one directly to America’s north.

“Canada does not treat us right in terms of the farming and the crossing the borders,” Trump said.

“We cannot continue to be taken advantage of by other countries.”

It’s unclear what he was referring to. In the past, he has complained about Canada’s dairy controls and softwood lumber. Administration officials have also expressed anger over Canada’s wide-ranging attack at the World Trade Organization on the U.S. system for imposing duties.

Meanwhile, the White House downplayed the tax threat Monday and various U.S. media outlets said there was nothing imminent.

Trump did promise more clarity on a new tax. More details could be coming this week, he suggested.

“We are going to charge countries outside of our country — countries that take advantage of the United States,” Trump said. “Some of them are so-called allies but they are not allies on trade. … So we’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you’ll be hearing about that during the week and the coming months.”

It’s unclear what type of tax he’s referring to. Earlier this year, the administration dropped the idea of a border-adjustment tax in its since-passed fiscal reform, because of widespread opposition on Capitol Hill.

The confusion was compounded by several factors:

—In the U.S., Congress sets tax rates — not the president. And the Congress, which just completed a major tax reform, has shown little inclination to hike taxes.

—Tariff rates, meanwhile, are negotiated at the WTO.

—The idea wasn’t even mentioned in the White House’s 2018 budget proposal — which was released Monday.

The most specific clue Trump offered involved motorycles.

He complained that the U.S. brings in products tariff-free and other countries sometimes charge more than 50 per cent tariffs on the same product: “Harley-Davidson. They’re treated very unfairly in various countries. You know the countries I’m talking about,” Trump said. “So we’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax.”

Those motorcycle tariffs are highest in Asia — they don’t exist in North America.

Several trade experts contacted Monday confessed to some confusion about what the president was threatening. Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute said the only action he could think of might violate international trade law.

It involves a rarely used retaliatory measure from a 1974 U.S. trade law.

“Could be anything, but nothing he could do, while remaining true to the trade rules,” Ikenson said.

“Presumably, he could invoke Section 301 (of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act) and threaten to impose taxes to mitigate, countervail, reverse foreign practices that he finds unfair. (That) could pass muster with U.S. law, but not WTO rules.”

Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Dawson Creek man, wanted in court, sought by B.C. RCMP

33-year-old Jeremiah Alexander Smith’s vehicle found abandoned near Hope

Service dog lost in Sunshine Valley

Owner pleads for help to find pet missing for a week

Need is great for foster caregivers in Hope and Agassiz

Information sessions planned in both communities over next two weeks

COUNCIL BRIEFS: Hope may soon become a disc golf or ‘frolf’ destination

Also a new zone created in Hope, smoking bylaw adopted

From Langley to PyeongChang: Local student is at the Olympics

Walnut Grove Secondary student Kevin Kim is at the Winter Games to create a multimedia project.

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada rounds out Day 11 earning gold in 2 more events

Comox Valley’s Cassie Sharpe and fan-favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all earned golds

5 to start your day

NDP to release budget today, Dawson Creek man’s car found in Hope, and more

Trudeau announces two-way $1 billion investment deal with India

Some of India’s biggest companies to invest more than $250 million in Canada in the coming years

’60s Scoop group educates survivors, pushes rejection of federal settlement

Federal government’s compensation proposal includes $50 million for an Indigenous Healing Foundation

As ‘Black Panther’ shows, inclusion pays at the box office

At the box office, inclusion is paying — and often, it’s paying off big time

Washington senator wants B.C. to follow suit and phase out net-pen fish farms

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea, senator says

Virtue and Moir end ice dance careers with Olympic gold

Virtue and Moir’s gold medal win at the Olympics makes them the world’s most decorated figure skaters

Canadians find living in small spaces teaches creativity

Canadian families choosing to live in small spaces to bring closeness to children

Most Read