President Donald Trump renewed his attacks on Harley-Davidson on Tuesday, threatening to tax the company for offshoring manufacturing and saying the iconic American motorcycles should "never" be built outside the United States. Rather, Harley-Davidson opened a factory in Thailand after Trump pulled the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But now, Trump has attacked Harley-Davidson saying that the motorcycle manufacturer is using the tax row as a cover to move production overseas, warning to "fix it".
"I'm just telling you it's false", he said.
"That was long before Tariffs were announced", Trump said on Twitter. Trump has defended it by arguing that this is in retaliation to the imbalance of trade that the U.S. has with major trading partners including China, the European Union and India.
Trump's attack, the latest in a series of criticisms of USA companies, was an about-face for the president, who hosted company officials and gleaming Harley-Davidson bikes on the White House lawn shortly after his inauguration.
The rift is particularly notable because Harley-Davidson has traditionally, had strong support within the GOP.
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It was unclear what taxes Trump was referring to, and why the company might have to pay them, since it will maintain production in the United States for US customers. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end - they surrendered, they quit! Trump then threatened the company "will be taxed like never before" if they follow through with the move.
He accused India of charging tariffs as high as 100% on imported American products and called for them to be removed.
Trump said he's getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers, citing India as an example, and to open up markets.
"When I had Harley-Davidson officials over to the White House, I chided them about tariffs in other countries, like India, being too high", Trump tweeted. To avoid raising its prices and risk losing business in the valuable European market, Harley-Davidson said it would shift some bike production overseas. The company doesn't have specific information on where production for the European Union will take place, he said.
"A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never!" he said earlier on Twitter. "Harley must know that they won't be able to sell back into USA without paying a big tax!" "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".