Now, faced with countervailing tariffs from the European Union, Harley is moving production and jobs to Europe, the company's second largest market. The Wall Street Journal reports that Harley-Davidson has been hammered on both fronts. At home it has been hit by higher prices for steel and aluminium due to Trump's tariffs. To add insult to injury now it's facing European tariffs on its motorcycles.
Europe is Harley-Davidson’s second largest market; riders there purchased more than 39,000 bikes last year, accounting for 16 percent of the brand’s total sales volume.
Whether or not the move leads to any job cuts, “iconic American brand moves manufacturing overseas” is almost certainly not the sort of headline the Trump administration was hoping its aggressive trade tactics would generate. It was also foreseeable: Our trade partners have a long history of responding to American protectionism by targeting politically sensitive products with tariffs of their own. While Harleys may not be a huge U.S. export, they are important in Wisconsin, which Trump carried by a hair-thin margin in 2016. As the Guardian notes, China also seems to be strategically placing tariffs on politically important exports, such as soybeans, which are produced in Trump-voting states like Iowa.
But hey, at least steel prices are rising in the U.S. thanks to the tariffs. That has to be good for American manufacturing, right? Right? Oh.