India must reduce import duties on American goods, motorcycles in particular, to zero, President Donald Trump demanded amid escalating trade tensions with the South Asian nation, stressing that the US will no longer get “robbed.”
Harley Davidson motorcycles must be imported to India at net value, Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen, as the legendary American motorcycle maker is trying to capture one of the world’s largest markets. While the billionaire president lauded his effort over the last year effort to have the import fees on American bikes slashed by half, Trump remains committed to coercing India into more concessions.
“You look at India…100 percent tax on a motorcycle…I called him [Prime Minister Modi]. I said it’s unacceptable. He [Modi] reduced it by 50 percent with one phone call,” Trump said Monday.
I said it’s still unacceptable because it is 50 percent versus nothing. It’s still unacceptable. And they’re working on it.
During the interview, the US president continued to defend his fierce protectionist policies which brought his administration at odds with a number of traditional trade partners.
“We’re the bank that everybody wants to rob. And that’s what they’ve been doing for a long period of time,” Trump claimed, vowing to continue to work to reduce the ‘$800 billion’ trade deficit. “We are not fools anymore. We are not the foolish country that does so badly.”
Indian trade relations with the US have deteriorated as Trump continues to dictate his terms of trade. Last year, Washington slapped the country with 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent levies on aluminum, all while seeking import trade concessions from New Delhi. Just this month India was officially removed from the Generalized System of Preferences, a duty-free import agreement under which it was allowed to export over $5 billion worth of goods to the US market annually. Furthermore, the administration has forced India to stop buying oil from Iran and Venezuela and ordered it to scrap its S-400 air defense system deal with Russia.
New Delhi, which has repeatedly stressed that it will not compromise its economic development or jeopardize its national security, will host the US Secretary of State later this month. Mike Pompeo will travel to India to “broaden partnership” in support of the US’ vision of the Indo-Pacific region.
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