Trump slams India’s ‘unacceptable’ 50% tariff on Harley Davidson motorcycles
India slashed customs duty on imported motorcycles such as Harley-Davidson to 50% after Trump called the tariffs “unfair” and threatened to increase duties on imported Indian motorcycles.Updated: Jun 12, 2019 02:35 IST
Hindustan Times, Washington
US President Donald Trump has again raked up the issue of India’s import tariff on Harley Davidson motorcycles, saying his “good friend” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cut the rate by 50% but even that is “unacceptable”.
Trump’s remarks an interview with CBS on Monday came ahead of his first meeting with Modi after his re-election on the margins of the G20 Summit in Osaka during June 28-29. They also came ahead of an India visit by secretary of state Mike Pompeo on June 24, when the two sides are expected to discuss trade issues.
“You look at India, very good friend of mine, Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, you take a look at what they’ve done, 100% tax on a motorcycle,” Trump said, referring to India’s import tariff on motorcycles.
“So, when Harley sends over there, they have 100% tax...They (India) make a tremendous number of motorcycles — when they send them in, no tax. I called him. I said it’s unacceptable,” he added, referring to a conversation with Modi.
“He (Modi) reduced it by 50% with one phone call. I said it’s still unacceptable because it’s 50% versus nothing. It’s still unacceptable. And they’re working on it,” he said.
India slashed customs duty on imported motorcycles such as Harley-Davidson to 50% after Trump called the tariffs “unfair” and threatened to increase duties on imported Indian motorcycles. Trump has repeatedly claimed India imposes “tremendously high” duties on US goods.
There was no immediate reaction from the Indian side to Trump’s comments.
India and the US are expected to have an opportunity to discuss growing trade tensions that have emerged as irritants in an otherwise strong relationship when Pompeo visits New Delhi on June 24, the first stop on a week-long tour to advance the “shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific”, the state department said.
This will be the first India visit by a member of Trump’s cabinet during Modi’s second term and it will prepare the grounds for the meeting between the two leaders at Osaka.
India will also keep a close eye on an address by Pompeo at the India Ideas Summit being organised by the US-India Business Council in Washington on June 12 as he is expected to preview elements of the future agenda for cooperation.
Pompeo’s visit will be used to address a whole host of contentious issues, such as US sanctions on Iranian oil imports, the ending of trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, the trade deficit and market access-related matters, people familiar with developments in New Delhi said.
The US threat of sanctions on India’s purchase of the S400 missile defence system from Russia, the people said.
“The broad direction of the bilateral relationship is positive and there is convergence on strategic issues, but there is a need to address issues that crop up from time to time,” one of the persons said.
Announcing Pompeo’s visit, state department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said the trip will and deepen the partnership with key countries to “advance our shared goal of a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
She added Modi’s election victory “provides an excellent opportunity for him to implement his vision for a strong and prosperous India that plays a leading role on the global stage”.
Pompeo said India is “an important part of President Trump’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific”.
He added his speech at the India Ideas Summit will focus on “how it is our relationship is so closely tied economically, but also importantly the things that the US and India can continue to do to build what is an incredibly important relationship for both countries”.
This will be Pompeo’s second visit to India as secretary of state but his first stand-alone. He was last in India in September for the inaugural edition of the 2+2 dialogue.
First Published: Jun 12, 2019 02:35 IST