Published: Wed, June 27, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Harley-Davidson move prompted by steel tariff, EU retaliation, TPP

Harley-Davidson move prompted by steel tariff, EU retaliation, TPP

"Wisconsin needs a governor who says Donald Trump is a risky idiot on every issue from immigration to trade policy", said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

The EU's top trade official today said the decision of Harley-Davidson to shift some manufacturing of its iconic motorcycles overseas, which President Donald Trump criticised, was a natural effect of a protectionist USA trade policy.

The EU's decision to raise tariffs on U.S. motorcycle imports from 6 percent to 31 percent was seen as an attack on Harley-Davidson.

Harley-Davidson says the shift to overseas production will take nine to 18 months to complete.

Trump first tweeted on Monday that "Ultimately [Harley-Davidson] will not pay tariffs selling into the European Union", adding: "Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!" Case in point, Harley Davidson. A growing group of Congress members want to strip the president of his power to impose tariffs. House Speaker Paul Ryan also traveled to a Harley-Davidson plant in his home state of Wisconsin to tout the benefits of the tax overhaul. "Does Harley even understand what 'Made in America means?'" Martinez said.

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Tuesday marked Trump's second straight day of leveling attacks at Harley Davidson. The Wisconsin-based motorcycle manufacturer says it plans to consolidate operations in York, Pennsylvania, the site of an existing plant where about 450 of the Kansas City plant's jobs will be moved. It did not respond directly to Trump.

In response, the European Union hit the US with tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of American products, including motorcycles. But those trade partners feel insulted by Trump and have made a decision to retaliate.

Another source of confusion is where motorcycles manufactured outside of the US will be sold. "We will now wait for the USA decision on the vehicle tariffs", an official in Germany's economy ministry said.

"We are now assessing the potential impact on our USA facilities", Harley-Davidson spokesperson Michael Pflughoeft told Bloomberg.

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President Trump will reportedly announce a new set of restrictions on trade with China this week. "Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient", he said.

"... We are getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers that have been unfairly used for years against our farmers, workers and companies". Trump blasted Harley-Davidson in remarks Tuesday afternoon, accusing them of using the tariffs as an "excuse". "I think it's in our interest to use other tools to go after those unfair trading practices to stop other countries from dumping, from cheating, from stealing ... but I think there are better tools than tariffs".

"Harley-Davidson maintains a strong commitment to US -based manufacturing which is valued by riders globally", executives said.

Meanwhile, the maker of Jack Daniel's, Brown-Forman Corp., said Monday it would have to raise the price of its product sold in the European Union because of the tariff hike, Bloomberg reported. Today, The Motor Company filed with the SEC, stating it would not pass along the increased cost to its dealers or its customers, because passing along the tremendous cost increase "would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region, reducing customer access to Harley-Davidson products and negatively impacting the sustainability of its dealers' businesses".

In late April, Harley said Mr Trump's metal tariffs would inflate its costs by US$15 million to US$20 million this year on top of already rising raw material prices that it expected at the start of the year.

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Harley-Davidson, up against spiraling costs from tariffs, will begin to shift the production of motorcycles headed for Europe from the factories overseas. The move, the US President argued, was to protect American businesses, though many experts thought differently.

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