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Trump to Harley-Davidson: 'We won’t forget, and neither will your customers'

28 June 2018
Trump to Harley-Davidson: 'We won’t forget, and neither will your customers'

With Harley-Davidson's sales in the United States slowing down and Europe being a crucial overseas market, the company said it will shift production to its overseas facility to avoid raising costs. "Increasing global production to alleviate the European Union tariff burden is not the company's preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the European Union and maintain a viable business in Europe".

"A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never!"

The tweetstorm comes one day after the president said he was "Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the white flag". He added: "The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!"

The quote, which disparaged Trump's understanding of trade and economics, was being spread by some accounts with very few followers, but quickly went viral. A representative from the White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Since announcing this week that it would relocate some of its production to mitigate the impact of retaliatory European tariffs, Harley-Davidson's chief executive has been the subject of an online smear campaign.

The Milwaukee-based company said Monday it came to its decision because of retaliatory tariffs it faces in an escalating trade dispute between the US and the European Union.

Local US media reported in May that a labour union for Harley-Davidson suggested some Kansas City jobs would move to Thailand - a move the company denied.

"I'm just telling you it's false", he said. "Now they are trying to use the tariffs to excuse and deflect from that decision".

Trump says in tweets Tuesday that the company had already announced it was closing a Kansas City plant.

Harley-Davidson executives met with Trump at the White House previous year after Trump canceled a visit to the company's headquarters in Milwaukee because protests had been planned. But Trump says that's an excuse and threatened the company with a "big tax" if they move their plant.

Either way, moving some production overseas looks like it may be in Harley-Davidson's best interest.

He said the company has been working with Twitter to see if the tweets could be removed and to figure out where they originated.

S&P's rating for Harley is A-minus - not sterling but in the top tier. "I understand that the President is a tough negotiator, but I urge him to consider a more targeted approach that protects American workers and businesses".