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

Creativity on display via the Middle Schools Awesome Art Show

‘First Friday’ Red Deer opening reception runs May 4th

Additional closures as water levels rise in the Red Deer River

Red Deer River rose by half a metre over the past twenty-four hours

City art gallery to close after 20 years in the business

Lacombe mainstay set to close at the end of April

Central Alberta dancers ‘shimmy’ for a great cause

Shimmy Mob will take place in more than 169 locations all over the world

Toronto van attack suspect faces 10 counts of first-degree murder

The suspect in the Toronto van attack that killed 10 people and injured 15 others on Monday is a 25-year-old man named Alek Minassian

Jury to deliberate after Cosby painted as predator

A jury of seven men and five women are to decide actor Bill Cosby’s fate

Memorial to victims of Toronto van attack continues to grow

The subway station where a van was used to run down pedestrians has reopened in Toronto

Small aircraft touches down on Calgary street

The twin-engine plane was apparently short on fuel forcing an emergency landing

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

Turning vehicles into deadly weapons is easy and cheap, expert says

Not all recent vehicle attacks have been linked to terror groups, says Candyce Kelshall

Toronto van attack accused was briefly in Canadian Armed Forces

Alek Minassian was a member of the forces from Aug. 23, 2017 until Oct. 25

Cause of plane crash that killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice to be released

The findings of investigation into the plane crash that killed four set to be released.

Most Read