Trump Says Tariffs Are Turning Canadians Into Shoe Smugglers

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

President Donald Trump returned to one his favored gripes about Canada Tuesday, suggesting that sky-high tariffs are turning Canadians into chronic shoe smugglers.

During an address to the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington, Trump said that Canadian tariffs on everyday items like shoes mean that U.S. business is being “treated horribly” by Canadian consumers who enter the U.S., purchase shoes and return home without declaring them at the border. (RELATED: Obama Ambassador To Canada Says Trump ‘Punched Canada In The Face’)

“There was a story two days ago in a major newspaper talking about people living in Canada coming to the United States and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive. The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle ’em in,” Trump told the group of businesspeople. The reference to “a story” may have an article that appeared in the New York Post that suggested Canadians love to shop in the U.S.

Neither Trump nor the Post story is entirely inaccurate as many Canadians view clothing that has been worn while vacationing in the U.S. as not subject to duties.

However, because of NAFTA, Canadians need only spend 48 hours south of the border to receive an automatic $800 exemption of duties for all items purchased during their stay. In addition, as the Calgary Herald notes, the trade agreement has also eliminated tariffs on U.S. shoes, as the Star notes.

Just how not paying duties to the Canadian government is hurting Americans is not clear.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America apparently cannot find a connection either. In a statement following Trump’s speech, The group said, “The president seems misinformed about footwear trade.”

It continued: “On behalf of the American footwear industry, we welcome anyone from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America. It helps both our brands and retailers grow. Period,” the group said. “We don’t care where they wear them, and if they get scuffed up all the better so we can sell them more.”

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