President Donald Trump denied Tuesday that his trade policy is to blame for Harley-Davidson's decision to shift some motorcycle production overseas, saying on Twitter that the company is using "Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse" to hide previously announced plans to move jobs to Asia.
In his latest Twitter rant targeting the iconic maker of motorcycles, Mr Trump warned: "If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end - they surrendered, they quit!"
"Harley said "the tremendous cost increase, if passed on to its dealers and retail customers, 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.' Translation for Mr. Trump: Unlike real estate, cars and motorcycles are a global market", the board wrote.
Chief Executive Officer Matt Levatich said in April that the factory in Thailand was a "Plan B" that Harley employed after the US abandoned the 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement Trump withdrew from a year ago. He could be referring to the tariffs he is attempting to unilaterally impose on foreign imports. That was long before Tariffs were announced. EU tariffs on Harley's motorcycles exported from the USA have surged from 6 percent to 31 percent, as the EU retaliates for tariffs the US has imposed on European steel and aluminum imports to the U.S.
Harley-Davidson had long planned to open a new plant in Thailand, a decision that pre-dated the escalating trade war between Trump and leaders of a number of other countries.
"I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the European Union, which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion". Trump has said he will follow through on these tariffs unless European leaders agree to remove tariffs they have on US auto imports, but so far Europe's leaders have mostly shown signs of meeting Trump's tariffs with tariffs of their own. The levy on Harley-Davidson bikes has increased to 31% from 6%, the company said.
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"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 its prepared remarks.
Harley acknowledged it has already been moving some production abroad, but it says moving more production overseas is its "only sustainable option" in the wake of the growing trade war. 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 facing an estimated $30 to $45 million in costs in 2018 due to the tariffs, which were brought on by President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs. Martinez added. "Does Harley even understand what "Made in America" means?"
Brussels imposed tariffs on a range of US-made products, including cosmetics, whiskey and cranberry juice, after Mr Trump imposed extra taxes on European Union steel and aluminum.
In another tweet, Trump said the company could face a "big tax".
In another tweet aimed at Brussels, Mr Trump warned the European Union that the U.S. was close to concluding a study on tariffs on auto imports. "They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!"