President Donald Trump said on Monday that the U.S. government will impose a “reciprocal tax” on imports from countries that levy tariffs against American made goods.
“We’re going to charge countries outside of our country–countries that take advantage of the United States, some of them are so-called allies but they’re not allies on trade,” Trump said during a White House meeting on infrastructure. “We’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you’ll be hearing about that during the week and coming months.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross applauded the idea, saying that the U.S. needs to “claw back” the revenue other countries raise by taxing U.S. products.
The U.S. has very low tariffs compared with some of our biggest trading partners. The trade-weighted average of U.S. tariffs is just 2.4 percent. China’s is 4.4 percent.
While Congress has the authority to set taxes and tariffs, the law authorizes the president to unilaterally impose tariffs in certain circumstances. In January, for example, the administration announced that it would impose tariffs on washing machines and solar products. The administration could potentially expand its use of these types of sanctions instead of waiting on Congress to pass new tariffs.
Last week, government data revealed that the U.S. trade deficit widened in December to its highest level since 2008, highlighting the urgent need for an “American First” trade policy.