President Donald Trump today recalled a conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the high import tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, saying India is not doing the US any "favour" by slashing customs duty to 50 per cent.
Imported motorcycles from high-end brands, including Harley Davidson and Triumph, are set to get cheaper in India as the government has slashed customs duty to 50 per cent. Earlier, import of motorcycles with engine capacity of 800cc or less used to attract 60 per cent duty, while those with capacity of 800cc or more attracted 75 per cent duty.
Addressing a gathering of governors of all the states at the White House, Trump said the US wanted fair and reciprocal trade deals.
"When they (Harley Davidson) send a motorcycle to India, as an example, they have to pay 100 per cent tax -- 100 per cent," Trump said.
Referring to his recent conversation with Prime Minister Modi, he said the "fantastic man" informed him that India has reduced tariffs on imported motorcycles, but the US was "getting nothing".
"Now, the prime minister, who I think is a fantastic man, called me the other day and said we are lowering it to 50 per cent. I said okay, but so far we're getting nothing. So we get nothing. He gets 50 (per cent), and they think we're doing -- like they're doing us a favour. That's not a favour," he said.
"I wasn't sure -- he said it so beautifully. He's a beautiful man. And he said, 'I just want to inform you that we have reduced it to 75, but we have further reduced it to 50'," Trump said, mocking Prime Minister Modi.
"And I said, huh. What do I say? Am I supposed to be thrilled? And that's not good for you people, especially as governors. It's just not right. And we have many deals like that," he said.
He said the US gets "zero" when it buys an Indian motorcycle.
"So when they have a motorbike -- a big number, by the way -- they have a company that does a lot of business. They have a motorcycle or a motorbike that comes into our country -- the number is zero. We get zero. They get 100 per cent, brought down to 75; brought down, now, to 50. Okay," Trump said.
"It's a great company. When I spoke with your chairman or the president of Harley, they weren't even asking for it because they've been ripped off with trade so long that they were surprised that I brought it up. I'm the one that's pushing it more than they are, but it's unfair. And India sells us a lot of motorbikes," Trump said.
This is for the second time in a month that Trump raised the issue of high import duties on motorcycles by India.
Earlier, he had called it "unfair" and threatened to increase the tariff on import of Indian motorcycles to the US.