US President Donald Trump has backed boycotting American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson, the latest salvo in a dispute between the company and Mr Trump over tariffs on steel.
- Harley-Davidson announced plan to move some production overseas to avoid tariffs
- Mr Trump says many Harley owners plan to boycott the company
- Harley-Davidson is already struggling with falling sales
The Wisconsin-based motorcycle manufacturer announced a plan earlier this year to move production of motorcycles for the European Union from the United States to its overseas facilities to avoid the tariffs imposed by the trading bloc in retaliation for Mr Trump’s duties on steel and aluminium imports.
In response, Mr Trump has criticised Harley-Davidson, calling for higher, targeted taxes and threatening to lure foreign producers to the United States to increase competition.
“Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better,” Mr Trump tweeted.
Harley-Davidson has repeatedly declined to comment on Mr Trump’s remarks over the course of the dispute. The company could not be immediately reached for comment on Sunday.
Harley-Davidson has forecast that the EU tariffs would cost the company about $US30 million ($41 million) to $US45 million ($61 million) for the remainder of 2018 and $US90 million ($123 million) to $US100 million ($137 million) on a full-year basis.
Mr Trump met on Saturday with a group of bikers who support him, posing for pictures with about 180 of them at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he is on holiday.
Earlier this year Harley-Davidson said shifting targeted production from the US to international facilities could take up to 18 months to be completed.
The company is already struggling with falling sales.
In January, it said it would consolidate its Kansas City, Missouri, plant into its York, Pennsylvania, facility.
US motorcycle sales peaked at more than 1.1 million in 2005 but then plummeted during the recession.
Motorcycle companies based outside the United States include Japan’s Honda and Yamaha, Europe’s BMW and Ducati as well as India’s Hero and Bajaj Auto, among others.