WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Harley-Davidson Inc with higher taxes on Tuesday and said the motorcycle maker, which he previously hailed as a model of American manufacturing, would suffer from a public backlash if it went ahead with a plan to move production for European customers overseas.
Trump’s attack, the latest in a series of criticisms of U.S. 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.
“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them,” Trump said on Twitter, without providing any evidence. “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 said.
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 U.S. customers. The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Trump’s tweet.
Harley-Davidson shares closed down 0.6 percent at $41.32, after falling nearly 6 percent on Monday.
The Milwaukee-based company said on Monday it will move production of motorcycles shipped to the European Union from the United States to its international facilities and forecast that the trading bloc’s tariffs - introduced as a counter to Trump’s tariffs on some EU-produced metals - would cost the company $90 million to $100 million a year.
Harley-Davidson said it had no comment on the president’s tweets. But company spokesman Michael Pflughoeft said it was assessing the potential impact of the production shift on its U.S. facilities.
To view a graphic on Harley-Davidson's exposure to import tariffs, click: tmsnrt.rs/2K7Es4C