Harley-Davidson Just Can't Catch A Break

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Harley-Davidson, as we have assiduously documented, is in trouble. Primarily because their customer base is old and getting older. Now, thanks to the Trump administration, it’s being threatened by a new potential menace that I didn’t see coming—tariffs on its products in Europe, as a trade war between the U.S. and the rest of the world heats up.

The Trump administration has been making noises for some time about imposing tariffs on some imports. Efforts ramped up last week when the U.S. Commerce Department recommended that tariffs or quotas be imposed on foreign metals. All of which, according to the Associated Press, has gotten the European Union to think about retaliatory measures should the tariffs come to pass. Caught up in the crossfire is poor Harley.

From the AP:

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily reported Tuesday the European Commission plans to retaliate with tariffs on U.S. agricultural products, but also whiskey and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas declined to comment on the list but said the EU would take “appropriate measures to defend EU industry.”


Those potential tariffs seem uniquely designed to hurt conservative leaders, as Deutsche Welle notes.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said EU officials had mentioned the possibility of imposing a tariff on Harley-Davidson imports from Wisconsin, the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

They also mentioned a possible tariff on bourbon from Tennessee and Kentucky, the home of longtime Kentucky Senator and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


In other Harley news, they confirmed last week that they still plan to close an assembly plant in Kansas City, Missouri, despite government leaders’ urgings to keep the plant open, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in subsidies Harley has received over the years.

I sincerely hope the next post I write about Harley is a happier one.