JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement did not prompt Harley-Davidson Inc. to close a Missouri plant, despite a headline suggesting otherwise.
A Tuesday headline on the website Second Nexus said Trump’s departure from the trade partnership “caused Harley Davidson plant in Missouri to close and move to Thailand.”
Harley-Davidson spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said Friday that the company’s decision to close the Kansas City plant “was based on our need to address excess capacity in the U.S.” The Milwaukee-based company reported an 8.5 percent drop in U.S. motorcycle sales last year.
The motorcycle company in May 2017 announced it would open a plant in Thailand, but Pflughoeft said the Thai plant is unrelated to the closure of the one in Kansas City.
He said opening the facility in Thailand is part of the company’s long-term goal to grow international business and it “will allow us to be competitive and provide riders greater access to our brand and our products in an expanding global marketplace.”
In January, Harley-Davidson said it’s shutting down the Missouri plant and shifting jobs to its York, Pennsylvania location. The move will mean 800 layoffs at the Kansas City facility, beginning midyear, and it will close by the third quarter of 2019.
The administration of former President Barack Obama championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a strategy for buttressing U.S. influence and growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the trade deal during his first days in office as part of his “America first” agenda.
Eleven other countries went ahead last month and signed the pact in Santiago, Chile. Thailand is not a member. The agreement is meant to establish freer trade in the Asia-Pacific region and put pressure on China to open its markets to compete with and perhaps eventually join the bloc.