Donald Trump9 on Tuesday threatened Harley-Davidson with a “big tax” and said the motorbike company’s decision to shift some motorcycle production overseas, “will be the beginning of the end”.
A day after the company announced it was moving some production overseas to mitigate the impact of Trump’s tariffs on European steel and aluminium Trump used Twitter to say the company is using “Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse” to hide previously announced plans to move jobs to Asia.
The Milwaukee-based company said on Monday it came to its decision because of retaliatory tariffs it faces in an escalating trade dispute between the US and the European Union.
Trump warned Harley-Davidson that any shift in production “will be the beginning of the end”.
“The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!” Trump said in one of several tweets on Tuesday. He was referring to tariffs Harley-Davidson would face on motorcycles produced overseas and shipped back to the US for sale.
The president has held up the motorcycle maker as an example of a US business harmed by trade barriers in other countries, but Harley-Davidson had warned that new US tariffs could negatively affect its sales.
Europe is Harley’s second largest market and the company said on Monday that the 31% tariff the EU is imposing on its motorcycles would raise the cost of each bike it ships from the US by about $2,200.
Trump recently imposed steep tariffs on aluminium and steel imported from Canada, Mexico and Europe in his attempt to reduce trade deficits between the US and its trade partners. But those countries have treated Trump’s action as an insult and have chosen to respond in kind.
The US and China are also volleying back and forth over tariffs.
Trump tweeted that Harley-Davidson had already announced it was closing a Kansas City plant and moving those jobs to Thailand. But it was union officials representing workers at that plant who claimed the jobs were being shifted to Thailand. Harley-Davidson has denied a link between Kansas City and Thailand.
“That was long before Tariffs were announced,” Trump said. “Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it…..”
Trump said he was getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers, and to open up markets.
A group from Harley-Davidson met Trump at the White House last year.
“When I had Harley-Davidson officials over to the White House, I chided them about tariffs in other countries, like India, being too high,” Trump tweeted. “Companies are now coming back to America. Harley must know that they won’t be able to sell back into U.S. without paying a big tax!”
Trump added that the administration is finishing a study on imposing tariffs on cars from the EU, which he claims has taken advantage of the US for too long.
“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never!” Trump tweeted. “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!”