President Trump accused Harley-Davidson of making an excuse for moving some of its production facilities to Europe, citing the “tariff feud” among EU countries and the White House. Harley-Davidson’s move is angering loyal U.S. customers Trump said.
He’s criticized the motorcycle manufacturer for two days on social media. He also warned the company that if it moved its production overseas it would be “the beginning of the end” for its brand.
At a meeting with lawmakers at the White House, the Washington Times reported that the president said:
“Harley Davidson is using [tariffs] as an excuse and I don’t like that because I’ve been very good to Harley Davidson. And I think that the people that ride Harleys are not happy with Harley Davidson, and I wouldn’t be, either.”
The company stated that it is moving some of its manufacturing operations to Europe because of the EU raising tariffs on U.S.-built motorcycles from 6 percent to 31 percent– in retaliation for President Trump’s increased tariff’s on EU steel and aluminum.
The president said the U.S. economy is strong enough to handle a temporary “trade war” with China, Canada and Mexico. He said:
“It’s up almost 40 percent, the [stock] market. Now, we’ve got a little bit of uncertainty because of trade. To me, there’s no uncertainty. But we can’t allow the European Union to take out $151 billion out of the United States. It’s a tremendous amount of money being taken out of our economy, and we have to straighten it out. Other countries are negotiating. And without tariffs, you could never do that.”
U.S. and Chinese tariffs are due to take effect on July 6 on a variety of products; the EU tariffs on U.S. motorcycles, bourbon and other goods went into effect on Friday.
Harley-Davidson said the tariffs will cost the company up to $100 million annually in profits, adding $2,200 to the cost of a motorcycle produced in the U.S. and sold in Europe. It stated in its regulatory filing that “it had no choice but to start manufacturing some bikes in Europe,” which is its second-largest market.
The Milwaukee-based company has been building plants overseas since 1999. It manufactures its motorcycles in Brazil, India, and soon, Thailand.
On Twitter the president tweeted that Harley-Davidson had planned its move before the tariff feud erupted, and that the company won’t be able to sell motorcycles to the U.S. “without paying a big tax!”
“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end — they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”
The U.S. accounts for 147,972 of the company’s retail sales in 2017, and Europe accounted for 39,773.
Robert Martinez Jr., the president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said in a statement:
“Harley-Davidson’s announcement today is the latest slap in the face to the loyal, highly-skilled workforce that made Harley an iconic American brand. Will Harley use any excuse to ship jobs overseas? Does Harley even understand what ‘Made in America means’?”
The president insisted that his tariff feuds are already producing results, the Washington Times reports, pointing to economic growth in the domestic steel industry, and increased production of solar panels and washing machines.
“The bottom line is countries are coming back now to negotiate, including European Union wants to negotiate,” President Trump told reporters. “Nobody knows what’s happening behind the scenes.”