WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump has slammed India for a high import tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycle, calling it "unfair", even as New Delhi slashed customs duty on imported motorcycles from high-end brands to 50 percent.
Trump, during a discussion with members of the Congress over steel industry, also threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian motorcycles to the US.
He said the recent decision of the Indian government to reduce the tariff from 75 percent to 50 percent was not enough and asked that it should be reciprocal, as the US imposes "zero tax" on the import of motorcycles.
"We have so many countries where we made a product, they make a product, ..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 amidst laughter from the audience.
In fact, he also indirectly referred to the recent conversation he had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
"And a great gentleman called me from India and he said, we have just reduced the tariff on motorcycles, reduced it down to 50 percent from 75, and even 100 percent," Trump said in an apparent reference to his last week's conversation with Prime Minister Modi.
"We have -- if you are Harley Davidson, you have 50 to 75 percent tax, tariff to get your motorcycle, your product in. And yet they sell thousands and thousands of motorcycles, which a lot of people don't know, from India into the United States. You know what our tax is? Nothing," he told the lawmakers and his other Cabinet colleague.
Trump once again pitched for a "reciprocal tax" on countries that he says abuse their trade relationships with the US.
"So, I say, we should have reciprocal taxes for a case like that. I'm not blaming India . I think it's great that they can get away with it. I don't know why people allowed them to get away with it. But there's an example that's very unfair. I think we should have a reciprocal tax," he said.
Trump has floated the idea of a reciprocal tax in the past, promising to slap it on countries, including allies, that take advantage of the United States.
"That's called fair trade. It's called free trade. Because ultimately, what's going to happen -- either we'll collect the same that they're collecting, or, probably, what happens is they'll end up not charging a tax and we won't have a tax. And that becomes free trade," Trump said.
Imported motorcycles from high-end brands such as Harley-Davidson and Triumph are set to get cheaper in India with the reduction in the tariffs.
Earlier, import of motorcycles with engine capacity of 800cc or less used to attract 60 percent duty, while those with the capacity of above 800cc, attracted 75 percent duty.