Trump threatens Harley-Davidson over European production move

Red Hen restaurant

Red Hen restaurant

"Their employees and customers are already very angry at them", Trump said on Twitter, without providing any evidence. For example, India is a rapidly-growing motorcycle market and they have huge taxes on imported motorcycles from America. Increasing worldwide production to alleviate the European Union tariff burden is not the company's preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the European Union and maintain a viable business in Europe.

The American motorcycle maker sells almost 40,000 new motorcycles a year in Europe, which accounts for 16 percent of the company's overall sales and is the biggest market for it outside of the US.

US President Donald Trump denies that his trade policy is to blame for Harley-Davidson's decision to shift some motorcycle production overseas. For more than a century, the company has been an icon not just in motorcycle culture but in American culture at large.

"The problem isn't that Harley is unpatriotic - it's that tariffs are stupid; they're tax increases on Americans and they don't work", he said.

But Trump appears to believe Harley-Davidson will manufacture products for the US market overseas, which it so far has not indicated it plans to do with this move. But Trump says that's an excuse and threatened the company with a "big tax" if they move their plant.

On NPR, Joe Capra of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 176, said he believes Harley-Davidson is using the tariff issue as an excuse for to do what they long planned to do.

Harley executives later traveled to Washington for a meeting with Trump, who said they told him of the difficulty they faced selling motorcycles overseas.

The European tariffs have jumped from 6 percent to 31 percent, the company said.

Long term, Harley will attempt to offset the tariffs by moving production of motorcycles destined to European countries to its facilities outside the USA, like Brazil, Thailand, Australia, and India. In addition to four US-based manufacturing facilities, Harley operates plants in Australia, India, Brazil, and Thailand.

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The company had no immediate response to the president's assertions.

Naturally, Trump felt betrayed and took to his favourite mouthpiece - Twitter - to express his ire.

Harley-Davidson executives met with Trump at the White House a year ago after Trump cancelled a visit to the company's headquarters in Milwaukee because protests had been planned. "They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!" he said in the post.

He wrote: 'Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag.

"The European Union is attempting to punish USA workers with unfair and discriminatory trade policies, and President Trump will continue to push for free, fair and reciprocal trade in hopes that the EU will join us in that", Sanders told reporters at the White House.

"We are finishing our study of Tariffs on cars from the European Union in that they have long taken advantage of the United States in the form of Trade Barriers and Tariffs". "I think you're going to even expand".

His aggrieved tweetstorm - echoed in subsequent comments at the White House - made it clear that he took Harley's action personally.

"We have companies that will lose more jobs here. I know your business is now doing very well and there's a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren't having so much in the last number of months that you have right now".

So far, though, those hurt by Trump's tariffs do not appear to be European Union countries but American workers.

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