The Reciprocal Trade Act also would allow the president to raise tariffs on goods at a rate deemed commensurate with the burden imposed by non-tariff barriers on U.S. exports of similar goods.
Duffy’s office released a chart showing certain countries maintain tariffs significantly higher than the U.S. on some goods.
For instance, India maintains a 100 percent tariff on motorcycles while the U.S. has a 2.4 percent tariff; the EU imposes tariffs of 68.2 percent on butter while the U.S. collects tariffs of 2.8 percent; and China has a 12 percent tariff on basketballs while the U.S. has a 4.8 percent tariff.
Countries’ base tariff levels are set through their membership agreements with the World Trade Organization.
“If somebody is charging us 100 percent tariff and we’re charging them nothing, we’re entitled to charge the same tariff as them,” President Donald Trump said during a meeting Thursday with GOP lawmakers on the legislation.
“What’s going to happen, I think, from a practical standpoint, is they won’t be charging us tariffs anymore,” said Trump, according to a transcript of the meeting. “We’ll see. Or we’ll charge them a lot.”
While the White House, Duffy and 18 co-sponsors support the legislation, it would likely face some stiff opposition in Congress.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has indicated an intention to consider legislation that would limit, rather than expand, the president’s tariff powers.
That bill proposed to shift responsibility for starting Section 232 national security import investigations from the Commerce Department to the Defense Department and to allow Congress to strike down any future executive branch actions to impose new Section 232 remedies.
Grassley noted that the exact legislative vehicle and timeline of any such legislation were both unclear.
The House Ways and Means Committee didn’t respond to a request for comment on the Reciprocal Trade Act.