Trump revs up Harley-Davidson fight into second day

Posted June 26, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump accused Harley-Davidson Inc. of using new tariffs on trade as cover for an existing plan to shift some production abroad and threatened the motorcycle manufacturer with a "big tax" on bikes imported to the U.S. if it relocates some plants overseas.

In his latest Twitter rant targeting the iconic maker of motorcycles, Mr Trump warned: "If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end - they surrendered, they quit!"

Harley-Davidson announced in January plans to shutter a Kansas City, Missouri, assembly plant, citing market conditions, about a month before Trump said he'd move forward on threats to implement tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel.

Trump said once the company leaves the USA, it won't be able to return unless it pays a "big tax".

The EU last week began slapping tariffs on American imports like bourbon, peanut butter and orange juice. And it has announced tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods - a tariff list that could swell to $450 billion if Beijing refuses to back down and counterpunches with retaliatory moves. After the U.S. imposed duties on aluminum and steel coming in from Europe, the European Union imposed tariffs on 2.8 billion euro ($3.2 billion) of United States imports.

In the early weeks of his presidency, Trump invited Harley executives and union representatives to the White House where he showcased motorcycles that were parked on the South Lawn.

Mr Trump tweeted: "I fought hard hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling to the European Union, which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion". Trump has said he will follow through on these tariffs unless European leaders agree to remove tariffs they have on US auto imports, but so far Europe's leaders have mostly shown signs of meeting Trump's tariffs with tariffs of their own.

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"The damage is likely to have political consequences, as the retaliatory tariffs target industries in swing states", the board said, citing states such as Wisconsin that went heavily for Trump in 2016 but are deeply affected by his administration's tariffs.

Harley-Davidson had long planned to open a new plant in Thailand, a decision that pre-dated the escalating trade war between Trump and leaders of a number of other countries. Harley-Davidson employs more than 6,000 people globally.

"On a full-year basis, the company estimates the aggregate annual impact due to the European Union tariffs to be approximately $90 to $100m". As the European Union is Harley-Davidson's second-largest market, accounting for almost 40,000 motorcycle sales in 2017 alone, it is a market the company clearly does not want to lose. But the firm said Monday that it was shifting more production overseas specifically to blunt the impact of the tariffs imposed by Europe. "Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!"

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said Trump's attack on Harley-Davidson is an example of the president "punching down".

"That means we have to make America the best country on Earth to do business, and that's what we're in the process of doing".

The EU recently imposed retaliatory tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of U.S. goods, including motorcycles, bourbon, motorboats and cigarettes.

On Monday, Mr Trump said the iconic maker of motorcycles had waved the "White Flag" after he had fought hard for the company. Trump said in a post on Twitter on Monday night. We are opening up closed markets and expanding our footprint. Trump's tariffs also raise costs on imported parts they need to manufacture in the United States.