If they’re charging us…: Trump rakes up India tax issue

Former United States president Donald Trump has once again raised the issue of high taxes in India on certain American products, in particular the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and has threatened to slap reciprocal tax if he is voted to power in the 2024 presidential elections.

During his first term as the US president, Trump described India as a “tariff king” and in May 2019, terminated India’s preferential market access — Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) — to the United States alleging India has not given the United States “equitable and reasonable access to its markets.”

The 77-year-old former president, who is facing a series of court cases and indictments, is leading the Republican presidential primaries and accounts for more than half of the GOP votes according to major national polls.

In an interview with Larry Kudlow of Fox Business News, Trump said came down heavily on India’s tax rates, which he alleged were quite high.

“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,” said the former president.

“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 — because 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,” Trump said.

“They said, well, that’s not good. That’s not our deal, OK? That’s not our deal. And I came down very hard on them. But India is very big. Brazil is very big on tariffs, I mean, very, very big. We had a couple of people, like the senator from a place called Pennsylvania that I love. But this guy was just horrendous. 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,” he said.

“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,” Trump said in response to a question.

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