Ways Donald Trump Made Harley-Davidson a Target

Harley Davidson to shift production overseas to avoid EU tariffs	 	 	 			Sean Gallup  Getty Images

Harley-Davidson, facing rising costs from new tariffs, will begin shifting the production of motorcycles heading for Europe from the factories overseas. "Their employees and customers are already very angry at them", he wrote on Twitter.

President Donald Trump's trade policies have put Harley-Davidson in the crosshairs.

Trump also warned Harley that the company would be heavily taxed if it tried to import goods from its European production centers back to the US, though there is no indication that the vehicles it produces there would be sold anywhere but on the continent.

Although Harley-Davidson had plans to move some operations to Thailand, it has made a decision to move all European-bound production overseas due to the EU's tariffs.

Trump's attack, the latest in a series of criticisms of US companies, was an about-face for the president, who hosted company officials and gleaming Harley-Davidson bikes on the White House lawn shortly after his inauguration. "Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse", he tweeted.

March 1: Trump announced his intention to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum, which then accounted for about four percent of total imports entering the U.S.

Harley-Davidson now has overseas manufacturing plants in Australia, Brazil and India.

It said the tariffs would add, on average, $2,200 (£1,660) to each bike exported to Europe from the United States as the import tax increases from 6% to 31%.

Harley-Davidson says it will not raise its prices to avert "an immediate and lasting detrimental impact" on sales in Europe.

Trump tweeted on Monday that he's surprised that Harley-Davidson was first "to wave the White Flag" in the tariff dispute between the USA and the European Union.

Mr Trump vowed to make the iconic motorcycle maker great again when he took office previous year, meeting company executives at the White House and thanking them "for building things in America". To refresh your memory, H-D is shutting down its manufacturing facility in Kansas City, which is expected to result in a net loss of about 400 jobs as some of the manufacturing gets rolled into the company's Pennsylvania plant. Sources said that during his recent exchanges with his U.S. counterparts, India's commerce minister Suresh Prabhu explained that the USA trade deficit would be whittled down in no time considering a growing economy like India would be buying 1000 or more aircraft and huge reserves of energy from the United States., not to speak of the growing military purchases.

The Thailand plant had no connection with the closure of the Kansas City facility, Harley-Davidson Chief Executive Matt Levatich told Reuters in an interview in February.

"People might think this is a smart economic move, but how many manufacturing plants are going to be moving over?" The president's tweets show he remains unmoved by the barrage of criticism against his tariffs, reflected by the hit to the stock market and vocal opposition in industries like agriculture.

"Harley-Davidson said, they wanted to do that (move some manufacturing base overseas)". Presumably the manufacture of the Harley-Davidson Street 500 and 750 in India plays a part in this decision.

The new European tariffs will make each Harley-Davidson motorcycle cost about $2,200 more to export.

United Steelworkers, which represents some Harley employees and has supported some of the president's tariff announcements, said it does not know yet how the company's decision will affect USA employment. The company did not respond to request for comment on Tuesday.

Harley-Davidson said that shifting targeted production from the U.S. to global facilities could take at least nine to 18 months to be completed. Trump tweeted early Tuesday.

And now, Harley-Davidson - a motorcycle brand that has often aligned itself with the very image of "Americaness" - is a ideal example.

"As a motorcycle, with Harley Davidson, you have to understand you didn't just get a recreational vehicle", he said.