Trump administration would introduce levies on imports from countries with significant trade deficits with US
"We are going to charge countries that take advantage of the US," Trump said at the White House during a discussion of the administration's plan to boost spending on infrastructure. "Some of them are so-called allies, but they are not allies on trade."
Trump soon after taking office last year proposed a tariff designed to target US manufacturers moving production overseas. The proposal dovetailed with an unrelated border tax plan proposed by congressional Republicans that would have overhauled the tax treatment of imports and exports, including crude and refined products.
The Republicans dropped the border tax proposal after it ran into opposition from a wide coalition of business interests. Trump also appeared to have buried his own proposal until now.
"We are going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you will be hearing about that during the week and the coming months," he said. The US could start levying tariffs at levels matching the charges US exporters face, Trump said.
The fiscal year 2019 proposal released by the White House today makes no mention of "reciprocal trade taxes." The Office of US Trade Representative did not clarify Trump's remarks.
Most trade experts point out that US tariffs are generally low by international standards. The average tariff charged on imports from countries without free trade agreements with the US is 4pc, according to researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.