- The Washington Times
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

President Trump revved up his criticism of Harley-Davidson Tuesday morning, after the company announced earlier in the week that it would shift production overseas.

Mr. Trump accused the motorcycle company of using tariffs as an excuse to move its company overseas without backlash. He warned that Harley-Davidson would be slapped with the same tariffs for products they sell back in the U.S.

The tweets Tuesday morning from the president were the second straight day that he targeted the motorcycle manufacturer, which said Monday that higher European Union tariffs would force it to move some of its production operations to Europe, its second-biggest market.

On Monday, Harley-Davidson Inc. filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission specifically citing tariffs placed on its products by the European Union. These tariffs increased Friday from 6 percent to 31 percent, which the company claimed was a direct result of Mr. Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Harley-Davidson estimated that the EU tariffs would cost about $2,200 per motorcycle exported out of the U.S.

“Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson,” the filing read.

The U.S. accounts for 147,972 of the company’s retail sales in 2017, and Europe accounted for 39,773.

The president was not the only one to push back against Harley-Davidson’s decision.

Robert Martinez Jr., the president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, accused the company’s latest choice of being just one in a long line of moves overseas. He pointed to the company’s facilities in India and Brazil and plans for production in Thailand, which Mr. Trump tweeted about on Tuesday.

“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,” Mr. Martinez said in a statement, “Will Harley use any excuse to ship jobs overseas? Does Harley even understand what ‘Made in America means?’”

In January 2017, Harley announced plans to close its factory in Kansas City, Missouri and consolidate production in its York, Pennsylvania, facility, cutting about 260 jobs.

Harley-Davidson CEO Matt Levatich said earlier this year that the Thailand plant was a “Plan B” after the president ended America’s partnership in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement involving 12 nations.

Wisconsin representatives did not criticize the company, but Mr. Trump’s trade policies.

“Unfortunately, this confirms my concerns and is a far too predictable outcome of policies that give companies like Harley-Davidson incentives to make their products elsewhere. We need to hold China accountable for its trade abuses, but that does not need to come at the expense of American workers and businesses,” Sen. Ron Johnson said in a statement.

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, told The Associated Press that the motorcycle company’s decision is “further proof of the harm from unilateral tariffs.”

The president defended his hard-line trade policies, arguing that he is defending American workers. He accused Canada, Mexico and other traditional trade allies in Europe of upholding trade agreements that disadvantage the American economy.

On Friday, Mr. Trump announced via Twitter that he would slap a 20 percent tariff on the EU, “if these Tariff and Barriers are not soon broken down and removed.”

Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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