President Donald Trump accused Harley-Davidson Monday of waving "the white flag" after the iconic motorcycle brand, citing the financial burden of new tariffs levied against American products in the trade dispute between the president and the European Union, disclosed plans to relocate some of its production overseas.
The president, who once showcased the company's motorcycles at the White House while touting domestic manufacturing, said he was "surprised" by the move.
Harley-Davidson divulged the plans in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday morning which draws a direct link between the Trump administration's implementation of steel and aluminum tariffs against the E.U. and its transfer of motorcycle production for "E.U. destinations" to "international facilities."
On Friday, the E.U. began to tax early $3.3 billion worth of imports from the U.S., including Harley-Davidson motorcycles, in response to the Trump administration's 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum, respectively, imposed in late May. Harley-Davidson claimed Monday that the E.U.'s action increased the tariffs on its motorcycles "from 6 percent to 31 percent."
"Harley-Davidson will not raise its manufacturer’s suggested retail prices or wholesale prices to its dealers to cover the costs of the retaliatory tariffs," the company stated in the SEC notice, adding, "To address the substantial cost of this tariff burden long-term, Harley-Davidson will be implementing a plan to shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the U.S. to its international facilities to avoid the tariff burden."
The president responded to the situation via Twitter Monday afternoon, writing that he was "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," he continued. "Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!"
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— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 25, 2018
Trump's claim that "ultimately [Harley-Davidson] will not pay tariffs," appeared to imply that he believed that the E.U. would reverse its decision.
In February 2017, Trump welcomed Harley-Davidson executives to Washington and viewed a number of the company's motorcycles on the White House South Lawn. At the time, he specifically thanked the company "for building things in America."
"I think you’re going to even expand -- I know your business is now doing very well and there’s a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren’t having so much in the last number of months that you have right now," the president added.