Harley-Davidson motorcycles, dairy products, ginseng, cranberries and other Wisconsin goods are likely to feel the sting of retaliation from steep tariffs announced Thursday by the White House on foreign metals.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Canada, Mexico and the European Union would be subject to a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum beginning at midnight. Other countries, including Argentina and Brazil, agreed to limit metal exports.
“The president’s overwhelming objective is to reduce our trade deficit,” Ross said. “We believe that this combined package achieves the original objectives that we had set out, which was mainly to constrict the import of steel and aluminum.”
European trade officials have previously threatened to respond to Trump’s move with duties on U.S.-made motorcycles, orange juice and bourbon, among other things.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Wednesday that the European response to increased tariffs would be “united and firm.”
Wisconsin could be hard hit, as the state is the world’s largest exporter of ginseng and cranberries, and it’s among the top exporters of dairy products.
Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. could feel the pinch in both the rising costs of steel and aluminum, and in higher prices of its motorcycles sold outside the U.S.
“Import tariffs on steel and aluminum will drive up costs for all products made with these raw materials, regardless of their origin. Additionally, a punitive retaliatory tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any market would have a significant impact on our sales, our dealers, their suppliers and our customers in those markets,” Harley said in a previous statement.
This wouldn’t be the first time that Harley, the world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles, has faced tariffs in trade disputes. The EU threatened tariffs on its bikes in 2003.
Harley plans to open a motorcycle assembly plant in Thailand this summer, as the tariff on motorcycles assembled in the U.S. is about 60 percent in Thailand, according to the company.
The steel and aluminum tariffs could raise prices for a plethora of other Wisconsin-made goods, from beer to green beans, that use metal for product containers.
“We appreciate President Trump’s desire to bring back jobs in the U.S. aluminum industry. However, the Beer Institute and its members stand united against the recently-imposed tariffs on imported aluminum,” Jim McGreevy, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Beer Institute said Thursday.
“These tariffs are a new $347 million tax on the U.S. beer industry. Over the long run, these tariffs will drive aluminum prices higher globally, increasing the cost of beer production for all brewers. The tariffs are already having an immediate and disproportionate impact on American brewers and American jobs,” McGreevy said.
“Ending the exemptions for our trade allies will only lead to more uncertainty in the aluminum market. The price of aluminum had already skyrocketed since President Trump announced tariffs on aluminum, meaning increased prices for America’s more than 5,000 active brewers and importers,” he added.
Mexico says it will answer tariffs on steel and aluminum announced by the Trump administration with duties of its own on a variety of U.S. products.
Mexico says it will impose tariffs on U.S. exports, including pork bellies, apples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel, among other things.
A statement from Mexico’s economy ministry says the U.S. use of a national security justification is improper and that the tariffs affect strategic sectors for North America, including automotive, aerospace and electronics.
This story will be updated. USA Today contributed to this report.