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Trump accuses Harley-Davidson of being 'first to wave the white flag' on trade

Tuesday - 26/06/2018 09:45
President Donald Trump brought the world's two biggest economies to the brink of a trade war Friday by announcing a 25 percent tariff on up to $50 billion in Chinese imports to take effect July 6. Here's how it could affect the U.S. economy and consumers. (June 15) AP

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked Harley-Davidson for moving some production overseas, suggesting Monday that the U.S. motorcycle maker was being disloyal in Trump's trade war with the European Union. 

"Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag," Trump tweeted Monday as he departed for a campaign trip to South Carolina.

"I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse — be patient!"

The Milwaukee-based company said in a public filing Monday that it would need to move production overseas because of tariffs being imposed in Europe against U.S.-made motorcycles. The union representing Harley workers previously said it expected the company to move production from Kansas City, Missouri, to Thailand.

More: Harley-Davidson to move some motorcycle production out of US after EU tariffs

The Europeans are targeting iconic U.S. products like motorcycles, blue jeans and bourbon in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on European steel and aluminum. The motorcycle tariffs rose from 6 percent to 31 percent, adding an average of $2,200 to the cost of a motorcycle.

 
Elena Vesnina from Russia sits on a Harley- Davidson
Elena Vesnina from Russia sits on a Harley- Davidson on display in Melbourne during the Australian Open Jan. 16, 2017. During 2016, the Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker said global retail sales were down 1.6%, compared to 2015. U.S. sales fell 3.9%, while international sales rose 2.3%, the company said in its Q4 and full-year financials released Tuesday. For 2017.  Vince Caligiuri, Getty Images

Trump has championed Harley-Davidson from the beginning of his presidency, calling the brand a "true American icon" in a meeting with company executives shortly after taking office. And he's frequently invoked the company in his trade rhetoric, saying "they're treated very unfairly in various countries."

But the company itself has warned that tariffs could end up hurting U.S. jobs. Moving production overseas, it said Monday, was "the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe."

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