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Trump Trade War: Harley-Davidson Shifts Some Production From U.S. To Europe

Harley-Davidson Inc. (HOG) disclosed in a regulatory filing that it will be implementing a plan to shift production of motorcycles for the European Union destinations from the U.S. to its international facilities to avoid European Union's tariff. The company expects ramping-up production in international plants will require incremental investment and could take at least 9 to 18 months to be fully complete.

The European Union has enacted tariffs on various U.S.-manufactured products, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These tariffs, which became effective June 22, 2018, were imposed in response to the tariffs the U.S. imposed on steel and aluminum exported from the EU to the U.S.

Consequently, EU tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles exported from the U.S. have increased from 6% to 31%. Harley-Davidson expects these tariffs will result in an incremental cost of approximately $2,200 per average motorcycle exported from the U.S. to the EU.

Harley-Davidson said it believes the tremendous cost increase, if passed onto its dealers and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region, reducing customer access to Harley-Davidson products and negatively impacting the sustainability of its dealers' businesses. Therefore, Harley-Davidson will not raise its manufacturer's suggested retail prices or wholesale prices to its dealers to cover the costs of the retaliatory tariffs.

In the near-term, the company will bear the significant impact resulting from these tariffs, and the company estimates the incremental cost for the remainder of 2018 to be approximately $30 to $45 million. On a full-year basis, the company estimates the aggregate annual impact due to the EU tariffs to be approximately $90 to $100 million.

The company noted that it maintained a strong commitment to U.S.-based manufacturing which is valued by riders globally. Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company's preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson. In 2017, nearly 40,000 riders bought new Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Europe, and the revenue generated from the EU countries is second only to the U.S.

"Harley-Davidson's purpose is to fulfill dreams of personal freedom for customers who live in the European Union and across the world, and the company remains fully engaged with government officials in both the U.S. and the EU helping to find sustainable solutions to trade issues and rescind all tariffs that restrict free and fair trade," the company said.

The company said it will provide more details of the financial implications and plans to mitigate the impact of retaliatory EU tariffs during the company's second quarter earnings conference call on July 24, 2018.

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