Trump vows to hit back at EU as tariffs bite Harley-Davidson

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NEW YORK, April 24, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – US President Donald Trump threatened
retribution on Europe Tuesday over tariffs that have bruised profitability at
iconic US motorcycle company Harley-Davidson.

Trump quoted commentary from Fox Business Network anchor Ashley Webster,
who pointed to the drag from European Union tariffs as a key factor in
falling sales by the iconic US motorcycle maker.

“So unfair to U.S.,” Trump said on Twitter. “We will reciprocate.”

The commentary was a pivot of sorts from the US president, in targeting
Brussels rather than Wisconsin-based Harley.

He previously lashed out at the 116-year-old company after it announced
plans last summer to shift some US manufacturing overseas as a way to
circumvent the EU tariffs, which were imposed on key American goods in March
2018 in retaliation for Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Trump’s latest threat comes as Washington and Brussels are close to the
start of formal trade talks, now that the US leader has moved closer to
settling a months-long fight with China.

Harley-Davidson reported a $21 million hit from tariffs in the first
quarter, which contributed to the 26.8 percent drop in profits to $127.9
million amid lower revenues.

In June, Harley-Davidson announced it was shifting some manufacturing
capacity overseas as “the only sustainable option” following punitive import
duties of 31 percent in the EU.

The motorcycle manufacturer in January 2018 announced it would close a
Missouri factory and consolidate jobs into Pennsylvania at the same time it
was building a new factory in Thailand.

The Thailand operation is part of Harley’s “tariff mitigation” strategy
aimed at the growing Southeast Asian market, the company said.

“We’re acting with agility and discipline to take full advantage of
rapidly evolving global markets,” Chief Executive Matt Levatich said.

Harley also is focused on building up a new generation of riders to make
up for declines in the older population that has been its bedrock.

The company said it found 278,000 “new riders” in the US in 2018 and that
“this group is the most diverse across age, ethnicity and gender in all the
years Harley-Davidson has tracked this data.”

Shares of Harley-Davidson fell 2.1 percent prior to the open, but later
recovered and was up 0.8 percent at midday.

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