President Donald Trump on Thursday cited tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s supportive commentary on his decision to implement tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from nearly every foreign country.
“Very interesting, I saw a tweet just came in from Elon Musk, who is using our wonderful space facilities and did a great job three weeks ago… So we send our car over there [to China], pay 25%,” Trump said at the White House after signing an order to formally enact the tariffs in 15 days’ time. “They send their car over here, 2.5%. That’s from Elon, but everyone knows it. They’ve known it for years, they never did anything about it.”
Trump’s remarks came after Musk, who founded Tesla and SpaceX, asked the president on Twitter whether he thought the U.S. and China should have the same guidelines on trade involving cars. Musk clarified that he meant “equal & fair rules” like “same import duties, ownership constraints and other factors.”
“For example, an American car going to China pays 25% import duty, but a Chinese car coming to the U.S. only pays 2.5%, a tenfold difference,” Musk wrote.
Trump praised Musk earlier on Thursday for “beautifully” landing rocket boosters after conducting a successful test of its Falcon Heavy rocket last month at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Musk previously served on Trump’s advisory council.
After referencing Musk’s tweet, Trump suggested he would eventually enact a plan that would allow the U.S. to match any tariff imposed by other countries.
“We’re going to be doing a reciprocal tax program at some point, so that if China is going to charge us 25% or if India is going to charge us 75%...we’re going to be at those same numbers.”