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'I fought hard for them': Trump hits out at Harley-Davidson over plans to move some production overseas

The company is seeking to avoid retaliatory European tariffs imposed last week.

Image: DPA/PA Images

UNITED STATES PRESIDENT Donald Trump has criticised the decision by Harley-Davidson to shift some manufacturing overseas to avoid European tariffs imposed last week.

The announcement came as the 117-year old company is also buffeted by higher steel costs following tariffs enacted by US President Donald Trump, who had embraced the company as an emblematic US industrial firm in the early days of his administration.

The European Union hit American motorcycles with duties of 31% on Friday, up from 6%, boosting the cost to EU consumers by about $2,200 (€1,879).

The EU targeted the US vehicles as part of its rebuttal to Trump’s tariffs on imported aluminium and steel, one aspect of his multi-front trade war.

Reacting to the news, President Trump said he was surprised and accused them of using taxes as an excuse:

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Source: Donald J. Trump/Twitter

Republican Senator Ben Sasse placed the blame squarely on Trump’s shoulders.

“The problem isn’t that Harley is unpatriotic — it’s that tariffs are stupid. They’re tax increases on Americans, they don’t work and apparently we’re going to see more of this,” he said.

A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan, a critic of Trump’s trade policies, said Harley-Davidson’s travails were “further proof of the harm from unilateral tariffs. The best way to help American workers, consumers, and manufacturers is to open new markets for them, not to raise barriers to our own market.”

Meanwhile the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents Harley-Davidson workers in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, denounced the move as a pretext and a “slap in the face” to the company’s workforce.

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“Even before the EU’s announcement, Harley made the decision to close its plant in Kansas City and has manufacturing facilities in India and Brazil,” union president Robert Martinez said in a statement.

“Will Harley use any excuse to ship jobs overseas? Does Harley even understand what ‘Made in America’ means?”

- © AFP 2018, with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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