Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Front Page - Yash­want Raj yash­want.raj@hin­dus­tan­ ▪

WASH­ING­TON: US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump raised the is­sue of im­port tar­iffs im­posed by In­dia afresh on Tues­day when he spoke of the du­ties that mo­tor­cy­cle maker Har­ley-David­son pays, warn­ing that Amer­i­can could fight back with “re­cip­ro­cal taxes” on In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle im­ports.

Trump has long held In­dian tar­iff on Har­ley-David­son was pro­hib­i­tively high. He had first men­tioned it in his first ad­dress to a joint sit­ting of US congress in Fe­bru­ary 2017, just a few weeks af­ter tak­ing of­fice. But he had not named In­dia then.

Talk­ing to US law­mak­ers about trade at the White House on Tues­day, the pres­i­dent was less coy about the is­sue.

WASH­ING­TON: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has again cited the tar­iff im­posed by In­dia on Har­ley-David­son mo­tor­cy­cles as an ex­am­ple of “un­fair” trade prac­tices that the US must fight with “re­cip­ro­cal taxes”, since Amer­ica does not have a levy on In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle im­ports.

Trump has long con­tended that the In­dian tar­iff on Har­leyDavid­son is pro­hib­i­tively high and se­verely dis­ad­van­tages the firm against the com­pe­ti­tion. He first men­tioned it in his maiden ad­dress to a joint sit­ting of the US Congress in Fe­bru­ary 2017, just weeks af­ter tak­ing of­fice, although he didn’t name In­dia at the time. He has been less coy since then. “We pay a tremen­dous tax to get into their coun­tries — mo­tor­cy­cles, Har­ley-David­son, it goes into a cer­tain coun­try. I won’t men­tion the fact that it hap­pens to be In­dia, in this case,” Trump said amid laugh­ter dur­ing a dis­cus­sion on trade with US law­mak­ers at the White House on Tues­day.

Trump went on to men­tion a “great gen­tle­man”, whom the pres­i­dent did not name, who had called him and said, “‘We have just re­duced the tar­iff on mo­tor­cy­cles, re­duced it down to 50% — 5-0 — from 75, and even 100%.” This was an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to Trump’s phone con­ver­sa­tion with In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on Fe­bru­ary 8, when the two lead­ers had dis­cussed the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil in the Mal­dives and the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan.

On Fe­bru­ary 12, the Cen­tral Board of Ex­cise and Cus­toms is­sued a no­ti­fi­ca­tion that slashed cus­toms du­ties on im­ported lux­ury mo­tor­cy­cles of high-end brands, in­clud­ing Har­ley-David­son and Tri­umph Mo­tor­cy­cles UK, to 50%. Ear­lier, im­port of mo­tor­cy­cles with en­gine ca­pac­ity of 800cc or less at­tracted 60% duty, while those over 800cc at­tracted 75% duty.

Trump added, com­ing to the nub of his ar­gu­ment, that while Har­ley-David­son pays that kind of tax, In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle ex­porters pay noth­ing: “And yet they (In­dian com­pa­nies) sell thou­sands and thou­sands of mo­tor­cy­cles... You know what our tax is? Noth­ing.”

▪ US Prez Don­ald Trump.

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