As the European Union weighs how to retaliate for President Trump’s planned tariffs, it may be looking at some of America’s most iconic exports, like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Levi’s jeans.
This Tuesday, April 25, 2017, photo shows Harley-Davidson motorcycles on display in the showroom at a dealership in Miami. On Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, the Commerce Department releases its August report on durable goods.
Alan Diaz, AP
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker identified motorcycles and jeans as targets for “countermeasures” the European Union has been preparing last week, according to CNN.
Trump has said he would impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports, a move welcomed by the U.S. steel industry but opposed by manufacturers of metal products.
The EU said earlier its response would be “swift, firm and proportional.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs are “absolutely unacceptable” and would cause serious disruption of markets on both sides of the border. Canada is the top supplier to the United States of both products.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson, the world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles, has faced tariffs in trade disputes. The EU threatened tariffs on its bikes in 2003 when President George W. Bush sought taxes on imported steel.
About 16% of Harley-Davidson’s sales are to Europe, according to industry analyst Robin Farley with UBS Investment Research.
Europe will be Harley’s main international stage this summer, with about 100,000 people expected to ride their bikes to Prague from 56 countries for the company’s 115th anniversary celebration.
“We will wait for more details on the proposed tariffs before we comment,” Harley spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said Saturday.
The Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the authority to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds there is a threat to national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said there was a threat, noting that only one U.S. company now produces a high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aircraft.
Skeptics, including some Republican lawmakers, quickly objected, saying that trading partners and rivals would slap counter-tariffs on U.S. products and increase costs worldwide.
“The president is proposing a massive tax increase on American families,” said Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
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