Trump denies he's to blame for Harley-Davidson decision

President Trump warned Harley-Davidson on Tuesday that it will not be able to "sell back into the USA without paying a big tax" after the company's decision to move production of motorcycles sold in Europe overseas amid tariff tensions.

Donald Trump used his Tuesday morning Twitter proclamations to go after Harley Davidson for moving their production overseas.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet Harley Davidson President and CEO Matthew S. Levatich on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington in February, 2017.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse placed the blame for Harley-Davidson's partial relocation squarely on Trump's shoulders.

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".

Harley says it stands to lose as much as $100 million a year from new European Union taxes on motorcycles that it would ship from the United States. "Harley must know that they won't be able to sell back into US without paying a big tax!" He could be referring to the tariffs he is attempting to unilaterally impose on foreign imports.

The EU's tariff on motorcycles spiked sharply from 6% to 31%, with Harley-Davidson predicting a cost increase of approximately $2,200 per motorcycle exported from the U.S.to the EU.

"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 company said in a statement. "Harley must know that they won't be able to sell back into USA without paying a big tax!", he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed the announcement earlier Monday, saying Trump's "trade and economic policies have been a huge benefit to the American economy". The EU tariff comes In response to the United States implementing a tax on aluminum and steel to several countries, including EU nations. Harley-Davidson employs more than 6,000 people globally. The EU is the company's second-largest market to the US -selling nearly 40,000 motorcycles a year ago. The EU has responded in kind, levying a tariff on several American products. Harley is not raising prices for customers. In other words, the company will absorb the rise in cost. But the firm said Monday that it was shifting more production overseas specifically to blunt the impact of the tariffs imposed by Europe.


The company is already struggling with falling sales. US motorcycle sales peaked at more than 1.1 million in 2005 but then plummeted during the recession.

Harley announced in January that it was closing its 20-year-old final assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri, which employed around 800 workers, and consolidating it into its facility in York, Pennsylvania. "Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse".

"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".

But last month, the Trump administration slapped the tariffs on allies Mexico, Canada and the European Union, prompting the retaliatory tariffs on US goods. "That was long before Tariffs were announced", he wrote.

Hefty tariffs make selling bikes overseas an expensive proposition for Harley. "Can't blame them. Many companies are being put in very hard positions".

In another tweet, Trump said the company could face a "big tax". "They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!"

The intensity of these attacks, which he typically only uses when referring to political opponents, came in a series of Twitter posts. We are opening up closed markets and expanding our footprint.

"This is further proof of the harm from unilateral tariffs", AshLee Strong, a Ryan spokeswoman, said Monday.

  • David Armstrong