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Here's Why Trump Is Beefing With Harley-Davidson

Take this helmet and hop on the back of my hog; there are angry tweets ahead.

Posted on June 26, 2018, at 2:58 p.m. ET

It's a beautiful summer day, so it's time to check out who Donald Trump is beefing with this week. Aha! It's motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson.

Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. 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! #MAGA

You might be wondering: Why does Trump care all of a sudden so much about Harley-Davidson? Well, back in the first weeks of his presidency, Trump met with executives from Harley-Davidson. He loved them!

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Recently, Trump started a trade war with the European Union, basically imposing tariffs so that it's more expensive for companies in Europe to export their goods to the US. Steel and aluminum tariffs were imposed June 1.

The United States must, at long last, be treated fairly on Trade. If we charge a country ZERO to sell their goods, and they charge us 25, 50 or even 100 percent to sell ours, it is UNFAIR and can no longer be tolerated. That is not Free or Fair Trade, it is Stupid Trade!

In response, the EU was like, "Cute stunt, now we're gonna slap tariffs on some of YOUR stuff!"

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They passed new taxes on a range of roughly 100 items from the US, like motorcycles (Harley), bourbon (Jack Daniels), and peanut butter. This means that it will cost those companies way more to sell their stuff to European customers, which is bad news.

Getty

Note that Harley-Davidson is headquartered in Wisconsin (House Speaker Paul Ryan's state) and almost all bourbon in the world is made in Kentucky (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's state). Back in March, Republican leaders tried to get Trump to back off from starting a trade war because they didn't want the EU to react with harsh tariffs that would impact their home states.

BBC

Harley-Davidson does big business shipping bikes to European customers, selling 39,773 bikes in Europe in 2017 while its US business (which is, for now, still much larger) is slowing. And the EU's new tariff would hurt them a lot — the company said it stands to lose $100 million a year. So on Monday, Harley-Davidson announced that it would move more production out of the US so that it could still sell to Europe and avoid the new tariff.

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Harley already has been moving some production overseas and is closing one of its US plants in Kansas City. The workers union says that some of those jobs will be going to a new Thailand plant opening later this year. But Harley says that the work is just being moved to a plant in York, Pennsylvania.

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Trump was not pleased with Harley's announcement. So he tweeted about it Tuesday.

Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand. That was long before Tariffs were announced. Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it.....

Trump warned Harley that when they try to sell those foreign-made bikes back to the US, they'll be highly taxed. But his threat doesn't totally make sense: The whole point of Harley's moving production overseas is about selling to Europe and other countries, NOT selling back to the US.

....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 U.S. without paying a big tax!

And Trump's contention that "a Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country" because "The Aura will be gone" is a little too late. The company already has plants in Brazil, India, and Australia. The "Aura" was already gone!

A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! 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!

So in summary, here's what happened.

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    Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture and is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

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