Donald Trump has already attested that Canada has "outsmarted our politicians for decades," attacked the dairy industry and is now accusing Canadians of smuggling shoes from the US back into their own country.
In his latest rambling attack on Canadian trade policies, Trump told a story to the press about Canadians that "buy shoes, then they wear them" and "they scuff them up, they make them sound old or look old." He launched into this story while delivering a speech on illegal immigration to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
"There was a story two days ago, in a major newspaper, talking about people living in Canada, coming into the United States, and smuggling things back into Canada because the tariffs are so massive," Trump said, referring to a New York Post called "Why Canadians will never give up American products". "The tariffs to get common items back into Canada are so high that they have to smuggle them in."
Though there is some possibility of truth to this story, with a small portion of Canadians presumably sneaking a few items past customs on their way back home (which US citizens presumably do, too), there is no indication this has anything to do with tariffs. Trump's assertion that this practice results in the US being mistreated is nonsense and makes no sense.
In response to the claim, the US shoe industry's lobbying group, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, released a statement saying "we welcome anybody from anywhere to come and purchase shoes in America." The group also noted that "the American government itself has not lowered footwear duties in a meaningful way in over 80 years," which range from 37.5 to 67.5 percent.
Under NAFTA, shoes manufactured in the US were not taxed with Canadian tariffs and since 95 percent of shoes sold in the US are made abroad, Canadians avoid Canada's tariffs when they return home and don't pay tax on foreign-made items.
The Toronto Star puts this in simple terms, explaining that essentially, Trump is complaining that Canadians spend money in US stores and then don't pay the Canadian government money for duties — which does not harm the US in any way, whatsoever.
Canadians don't pay duties on the first $200 in purchases in the US when they're there for up to 24 hours, or up to $800 if they're gone for longer than 48 hours, according to the Government of Canada. Currently Canada has one of the lowest thresholds on products mailed from abroad, being $20, while the US has its threshold set at $800.
With NAFTA being renegotiated as we speak, Trump has blasted Canada and Mexico for being "very difficult" and threatened to terminate the discussions.