US president Donald Trump has denied 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.
The Milwaukee-based company said it came to its decision because of retaliatory tariffs it faces in an escalating trade dispute between the US and the European Union.
Mr Trump warned Harley-Davidson that any shift in production “will be the beginning of the end”.
He tweeted: “The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”
The president was referring to tariffs Harley-Davidson would face on motorcycles produced overseas and shipped back to the US for sale.
Mr Trump has held up the US motorcycle maker as an example of an American business harmed by trade barriers in other countries, but Harley-Davidson had warned that tariffs could hurt its sales.
The American leader recently imposed steep tariffs on aluminium and steel imported from Canada, Mexico and Europe in his bid to level the trade playing field and reduce trade deficits between the US and its trade partners. But those countries have treated Mr 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.
Mr Trump tweeted that Harley-Davidson had already announced it was closing a Kansas City plant and moving those jobs to Thailand. This stems from 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,” Mr Trump said. “Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it…..”
Mr Trump added he is getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers, and to open up markets.
A group from Harley-Davidson met Mr Trump at the White House last year.
Mr Trump tweeted: “When I had Harley-Davidson officials over to the White House, I chided them about tariffs in other countries, like India, being too high.
“Companies are now coming back to America. Harley must know that they won’t be able to sell back into US without paying a big tax!”
Mr 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!” he 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!”