Trump administration suggests bill to expand the president’s tariff powers

Thursday, 10 January 2019 01:09:48 (GMT+3)   |   San Diego

The Trump administration released a draft bill that would give Donald Trump line-by-line power to raise tariffs on individual imported products if trading partners charged higher import taxes, according to a report this week from Bloomberg.

The report said that the draft bill, titled the “United States Reciprocal Trade Act,” would allow Trump to impose tariffs if he determines either tariff or non-tariff barriers on a specific product are higher than the US’. The bill would reportedly require negotiations with other countries and Congress to be notified, but lawmakers would not have the power to vote on any tariff decision.

However, Bloomberg said the bill would likely violate WTO rules. As part of the “most favored nation” rule at the WTO, coutnries are not allowed to impose tariffs unilaterally on a product from a single country except under certain conditions, such as to address dumping or illegal subsidies.

The bill is unlikely to get that far. Democrats in control of Congress are not expected to support it, and members of the Republican-controlled Senate have indicated they are unwilling to grant Trump more unilateral power to impose tariffs.

“Oh, we aren’t going to give him any greater authority, we’ve already delegated too much,” Republican Senator Chuck Grassley told media this week in response to the Bloomberg article.

The article also quoted Jennifer Hillman, a former WTO judge, who said the bill is particularly worrying because it would give Trump “massive authority to favor his friends and his pet industries and ignore others.’’

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