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

School district reconsiders late French for Cedar Hill, but Central is out

District says space at Central at capacity, while Cedar Hill has room

More than 100,000 toxic toys named in Canada-wide recall

Plastic doll contains levels of phthalates over allowable limit and may pose chemical hazard

Strong winds up to 100 km/h for parts of Vancouver Island

Wind warning in effect for north, east and west Vancouver Island into Saturday morning

Langford mayor says City threatened during meeting over speculation tax

Stew Young says he wants Langford exempt from tax

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Wind, tides could combine for 7-metre Long Beach waves Saturday

Extreme wave hazard warning at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Vancouver Island dog walker accosted by man with bear spray

Woman figures man is afraid of dogs after latest in string of Comox Valley incidents

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Parents in this B.C. city can no longer opt kids out of class for personal beliefs

Change comes as part of ‘big overhaul’ of school district’s learning resources policy approved by board

BC Hydro scammers bilked customers out of nearly $45,000 in 2018

Nearly 2,000 people reported scams to the utility, as they continue to be more common

Good news: Peak flu season over in B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says that while peak season is over, rates remain high this time of year

Most Read