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Trump warns it will be the ‘beginning of the end’ if Harley-Davidson moves overseas

President Donald Trump claims Harley-Davidson is using the EU’s retaliatory tariffs as an “excuse” to move some production overseas. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Updated

President Donald Trump warned Harley-Davidson on Tuesday that its iconic American motorcycles “should never be built in another country” and predicted that if it moves production overseas, “it will be the beginning of the end.”

“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!” the president tweeted.

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Earlier in the morning, the president also claimed that the American motorcycle manufacturer is using the EU’s retaliatory tariffs as an “excuse” to move some production overseas.

“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,” the president wrote online in a series of tweets. “We are getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers that have been unfairly used for years against our farmers, workers and companies. We are opening up closed markets and expanding our footprint. They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!”

The president continued, writing on Twitter that he had “chided” Harley-Davidson officials when they visited the White House in February about tariffs in countries such as India, and that his administration is completing a study on vehicle tariffs from the EU.

On Monday, the motorcycle manufacturer stated it would shift some production to international facilities of motorcycles that are headed to European markets to avoid paying a 25 percent tariff. Brussels imposed the tariffs in response to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Harley-Davidson already has factories in Australia, Brazil and India, despite Trump’s assertion that the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company’s motorcycles “should never be built in another country.”

It announced in May 2017 that it was building a plant in Thailand to serve its Southeast Asia markets, which would allow the company to avoid tariffs on imported motorcycles.

Similarly, Harley-Davidson announced it would close its Kansas City plant and move some jobs to a factory in York, PA. The union connected to the company, however, later accused the company of moving jobs to Thailand.

At the time of the union criticism, the company denied there was any connection between the Kansas City factory closing and the Thai-based plant, saying in a statement that “the plant under construction in Thailand is a separate and unrelated issue. Part of our long-term strategy is to grow our international business to 50 percent of our annual volume by 2027,” according to news reports.

Harley-Davidson did not immediately respond for comment.

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