When President Donald Trump brought up the topic of trade in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he asked Congress to approve something called the “United States Reciprocal Trade Act” — a bill many Americans have probably never heard of.
This particular piece of legislation, introduced in Congress by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), is the president’s latest pet project on trade.
While it sounds pretty innocuous — reciprocal trade sure sounds nice! — the legislation would give broad powers to the president to impose tariffs on foreign imports. Or as Trump put it in his speech, “If another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us.”
The White House and Duffy released several examples of what they see as massive trade imbalances. For example, Thailand imposes a 30 percent tariff on imported frozen french fries, but the US only imposes an 8 percent tariff on frozen fries. Under the Reciprocal Trade Act, Trump could retaliate and impose a 30 percent tariff on frozen french fries coming from Thailand.
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