Trump backs Harley-Davidson boycott

Washington: President Donald Trump has upped the ante in his feud with Harley-Davidson, saying it is “great” that many owners of the motorcycle in the US plan to boycott the iconic American firm as a row over tariffs on steel and aluminium escalates.

The company said in June it would shift some motorcycle production away from the US to avoid the “substantial” burden of European Union tariffs.

Harley-Davidson has assembly plants in Australia, Brazil, India and Thailand as well as in the US, but it has not said which plant would take up the extra production. Trump’s latest salvo against Harley-Davidson came after the President hosted “Bikers for Trump” supporters at his golf club in Bedminister, New Jersey, over the weekend.

“Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great!” Trump wrote. The US president said “most other firms… including Harley competitors” agreed with his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

“A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better,” he said. Tensions between the Trump administration and Harley-Davidson have brewed for months. It started when Trump imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports earlier this year.

Accused Harley of using EU retaliatory tariffs as an excuse

  • Trump accused Harley of using the European retaliatory tariffs as “an excuse” for moving manufacturing abroad.
  • Trump, echoing a top union for Harley workers, claimed the company planned to shift some operations to Thailand.
  • Harley acknowledged it already had been moving some production abroad, but said moving more production overseas was the “only sustainable option” in the face of a rising trade war among the global powers.
  • The President also said last month his administration was “working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the US.”
  • Trump has repeatedly raised the issue of high tariffs by India on high-end Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
  • Trump has said that the Indian government’s decision to reduce the tariff on Harley-Davidson motorbikes from 75% to 50% was not enough and demanded that it should be reciprocal, as the US imposes “zero tax” on the import of bike.
  • Trump has said tariffs are necessary to protect the US steel and aluminium industries vital for national security.

(With inputs from PTI)