MILWAUKEE – The reason Harley-Davidson may be shifting some of its production overseas may not be solely the surging tariff controversy, MarketWatch said last week. It may be more because of other countries’ tariffs and the aging U.S. market.
It was probably inevitable that Harley-Davidson would plant a flag in Europe, however. Sales are slowing in the U.S. because of demographic shifts and they are growing in Europe, the company’s second-largest market. The tariffs may have simply sped up the decision by Harley to shift more production to the continent so it can be closer to its customers.
The earlier shift to Asia was undertaken for the same reason, but there’s a big difference. Countries such as China, India and Thailand have huge and unfair tariffs that force companies wanting to do business to relocate there — exactly what Trump is complaining about.
Thailand charges a minimum 60% tariff and India 100%, effectively doubling the price of a Harley shipped from the U.S. Harley-Davidson has built plants in those countries to avoid the steep tariffs and make bikes more cheaply for customers who earn far less money than the typical American.
The company eventually aims to generate half its revenue outside the United States.
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