NEW DELHI: President Donald Trump may be miffed over the import duty that India levies on America-made Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but the manufacturer of the cult bike doesn’t seem to be too perturbed about the tax.
“I can accept the current duty structure. That’s the requirement of the government here and this is the market we are trading in. So I accept that,” Harley Davidson India & China managing director Peter MacKenzie told ET. “Would I like less? I am sure anybody who manufactures or produces goods would like less tariff.”
On Monday, Trump made light of Delhi’s move to slash the duty to 50% while addressing a gathering of governors at the White House. Referring to a recent conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump said the Indian leader, a “fantastic man”, had informed him that India had reduced tariffs on imported motorcycles, but added that the US was “getting nothing” in return — the US doesn’t levy import duty on motorcycles from India.
In early February, the Indian government reduced the duty on imported motorcycles to 50%, from 60% for bikes with engine capacity less than 800cc and from 75% for those with larger engines. Top industry sources told ET that India reduced the duty on personal intervention by PM Modi. There had been no representation either from Harley-Davidson India or from Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers on slashing of customs duty on motorcycles, they said.
Data available with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry show that in value terms, Indian exports of cars and two-wheelers to the US totalled $9.61 million in fiscal 2017, compared with imports of $28.26 million. US exports of two-wheelers to India were almost double at $11.65 million during the period, compared with India’s shipments worth $6.09 million.
MacKenzie said the company faces higher tax in some others markets as the duty structure on imported motorcycles varied widely.
Each country has its own reasons for keeping the rate at a particular level, he said. “If I begin to speculate if that’s right or wrong, that’s the trading environment and if you wish to trade that’s the rules you need to play by.”