Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Harley-Davidson, stung by tariffs, shifts some production overseas

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk together on their way to greet Harley Davidson executives on the South Lawn of the White House Harley-Davidson to shift some production out of US over EU tariffs
Jan Cook | 26 June, 2018, 16:14

Harley-Davidson plans to shift some manufacturing of its iconic motorcycles overseas to avoid retaliatory European tariffs imposed last week, the company said Monday.

Harley estimates the European tariff increase from 6 percent to 31 percent on motorcycles would add $2,200 to the cost of an average motorcycle exported from the U.S.to the EU. The total financial hit to the company will be in the range of $90 to $100 million per year, but the company said it would not pass those costs onto consumers in the form of higher prices.

"Harley-Davidson expects ramping up production in worldwide plants will require incremental investment and could take at least 9 to 18 months to be fully complete". While Harley said it's committed to making motorcycles in the USA, it suggested it had no other choice but to move production from its home market. The company already has plants in Australia, Brazil and India, and it will soon open another facility in Thailand.

In addition, to address the substantial long-term cost burden from the tariffs the company plans to shift production of motorcycles for European Union destinations from the U.S.to worldwide facilities.

The EU targeted the American motorcycles as part of its rebuttal to President Donald Trump's tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, one aspect of his multi-front trade war.

A Harley-Davidson spokesman said the company had nothing to say in response to Trump's tweet beyond its filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Companies are now coming back to America.

Late Monday afternoon President Trump tweeted, "Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag".

"We are now assessing the potential impact on our U.S. facilities", said Harley-Davidson spokesman Michael Pflughoeft.

The Wall Street Journal newspaper reports that the Trump administration plans to limit Chinese investment in American technology companies and high-tech exports to China.

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Harley's entry-level bike in France now costs 7,490 euros ($8,766).

"If Trump's trade policies are leading an iconic company like Harley-Davidson to move production out of the United States, then who exactly is benefiting?"

That's right Mark... the European Union imposed import duties of 25 percent on a range of American goods last week, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Rows of motorcycles are behind a bronze plate with corporate information on the showroom floor at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania, April 26, 2017. Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, warned last week that escalating tension between the United States and China will impair earnings from its Alabama sport utility vehicle plant and lower profit this year.

The company said it would not raise retail or wholesale prices for its dealers, and expects the tariffs to result in incremental costs of $30 million to $45 million for the rest of2018. US motorcycle sales peaked at more than 1.1 million in 2005 but then plummeted during the recession. "Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson", the company said in a statement.

The EU said Friday that it would counter the tariffs with penalties of their own on $3.2 billion of American-made goods.

In a terse editorial by the editors, the staid business-oriented paper held up the announcement that stalwart American manufacturer Harley-Davidson would be moving jobs to Europe - saying American workers are the "biggest losers" under Trump's policies.

In 2017, Trump welcomed executives and workers from Harley-Davidson to the White House, thanking them for building their vehicles in the United States and assuring them, "I think you're going to even expand".

"This is further proof of the harm from unilateral tariffs", AshLee Strong, a Ryan spokeswoman, said Monday.

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