Trump literally begs Harley-Davidson to reconsider move to Europe

"Harley-Davidson, please -- build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please, okay?"


On Thursday, President Trump traveled to Wisconsin for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Foxconn plant in Wisconsin. But during his speech, he clearly had another Wisconsin-based company on his mind.

At one point, Trump — who loves to brag about his deal-making skills — shamelessly begged Harley-Davidson to reconsider moving some of its production from the United States to Europe.

“Harley-Davidson, please — build those beautiful motorcycles in the USA, please, okay? Don’t get cute with us. Don’t get cute,” Trump said. “They don’t realize the taxes are coming way down. They don’t realize that yet. I’ve spent a lot of time with them. Build ’em in the USA. Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t, I’ll tell you that.”


Trump, who posted a series of ill-informed tweets attacking Harley-Davidson for the move on Tuesday, seems to believe that the company should stay in the United States out of a sense of loyalty to him.

But as ThinkProgress has previously detailed, the trade war Trump declared by imposing tariffs on European steel motivated Harley to move production overseas for machines manufactured for European consumers.

In a filing Monday, the company stated that the EU tariffs on exported motorcycles from the U.S. rose from 6 percent to 31 percent, making each bike about $2,200 more expensive to export. Harley-Davidson estimates costs related to the tariffs to come out to about $30 million to $45 million for the rest of 2018 and about $90 million to $100 million annually. The European market accounts for roughly 16 percent of Harley’s sales.

Rather than raise their prices, the company is moving their business elsewhere.

The company has not yet announced how many American jobs might be cut as a result of the move.

While the much-touted Foxconn project Trump helped put together could create as many as 13,000 jobs, they come at a steep price.

In order to entice Foxconn to open a manufacturing plant in the United States, the company received $3 billion in subsidies from Wisconsin taxpayers. Even under the rosiest projections, that comes out to $219,000 in subsidy per job.