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Trump attacks major U.S. company that relocated production to Europe due to his tariffs

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Trump on Monday night. (CREDIt: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)
Trump on Monday night. (CREDIt: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)

President Trump issued a thinly veiled threat to Harley-Davison on Tuesday morning, tweeting that if the company follows through on plans to shift some of its production to Europe, “it will be the beginning of the end — they surrendered, they quit!”

“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country – never!” Trump tweeted. “Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”

Trump is lashing out after Harley Davidson announced plans to relocate some production to Europe on Monday. As ThinkProgress detailed, Trump’s tariffs on steel played a direct role in the company’s decision:

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.

But Trump’s tweet suggesting this signals the first time a Harley-Davidson may be built outside the United States is based on a false premise.

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According to Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star, Harley has been manufacturing in Brazil since 1994 and in India since 2014; the company also recently opened a new plant in Thailand. As ThinkProgress detailed when Harley announced in May that it would shut down a plant in Kansas City, union workers there said some of their jobs were being outsourced to Asia.

Trump directed several other tweets toward Harley-Davidson on Tuesday morning.

First, Trump made a nonsensical case that Harley’s recent decision to open a plant in Thailand suggests the notion it’s now moving production to Europe as a result of his tariffs is nothing more than an “excuse.”

Then, Trump claimed that when Harley execs visited him in the White House, he “chided” them about tariffs in India — as though he expected the company to do something about them. He also threatened Harley, claiming that the company “must know that they won’t be able to sell back into U.S. without paying a big tax!”

During a rally Monday evening in South Carolina, Trump didn’t mention Harley. Ignoring the news about a major American company relocating some of its production to Europe, Trump told his audience, “You have no idea, countries are trying to hold back their companies from leaving and moving back to the United States.”

“We have more jobs — we have higher stats,” Trump added.

Tuesday marked the second straight day the president has attacked a business on Twitter. On Monday morning, he responded to news that a small restaurant in rural Virginia asked Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ party to leave when they went there to dine on Friday night by denigrating the restaurant as “filthy” and “dirty.”