Donald Trump criticises Harley-Davidson for decision over tariffs
Donald Trump has criticised the Harley-Davidson motorcycle firm over its plans to shift production away from the US in order to avoid European Union tariffs.
The US president tweeted he was surprised that the company had become “the first to wave the white flag”, adding: “I fought hard for them.”
Harley-Davidson earlier said making bikes for the European market would be transferred to other countries.
The EU tariffs are a response to new US duties on steel and aluminium imports.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also told reporters at a briefing on Monday that the EU was “attempting to punish US workers with unfair and discriminatory trade policies”.
“President Trump will continue to push for free, fair and reciprocal trade, in hopes that the EU will join us,” Ms Sanders said.
Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson said the increased costs from the EU tariffs were a “substantial” burden and a threat to its international sales, which it has been trying to expand.
The company has assembly plants in Australia, Brazil, India and Thailand as well as in the US.
Absorbing costs of EU tariffs
Harley-Davidson said it would raise investment in its international plants, though it did not say which ones, adding that it expected the increase in production to take nine to 18 months.
It said the tariffs would add, on average, $2,200 (£1,660) to each bike exported to Europe from the US as the import tax increases from 6% to 31%.
Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse – be patient! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
The company, which sold nearly 40,000 motorcycles in Europe last year, said it planned to absorb those costs rather than pass them on to customers and risk damaging sales.
Harley-Davidson’s move is one of the most visible consequences of the trade disputes triggered by President Trump’s decision to levy tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.
Mr Trump says the duties are necessary to protect the US steel and aluminium industries, which are vital to national security.
They have drawn retaliation from the EU, Canada, Mexico, India and others while driving up the cost of metals for manufacturers in the US.
US companies that range from boat-builders to nail manufacturers have warned about the consequences of escalating trade tensions.