The United States want to punish the European Union by raising the import tax for a lot of products from Europe, including motorcycles. The reason for this proposal: the European Union bans the import of American beef and beef products produced from animals that have been given growth hormones. The Office of United States Trade Representative proposes to add an import tax on motorcycles with an engine size between 51cc and 500cc imported from the European Union.
The American riders
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) opposes the proposed tariff, because trade disputes residing within the boundaries of the agricultural industry should not be solved with trade sanctions levied against non-agricultural products. “There is no logical link between motorcycles and beef,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations. “It is absurd to even consider such a move.” The Office of the US Trade Representative is responsible for developing and coordinating US international trade, commodity and direct investment policy and overseeing negotiations with other countries. The head of USTR is the U.S. Trade Representative, a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade adviser, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues.
According to the AMA, if the agency enacts this motorcycle tariff, serious and potentially irreversible harm will be done to American small- and medium-sized business owners selling the vehicles and to American families who buy these motorcycles for commuting and outdoor recreation. The same agency tried the same tactic in 2008, but the effort was thwarted when the AMA, the Motorcycle Industry Council and bike manufacturers and retailers rallied motorcyclists against the plan. At that time, the US Trade Representative instead raised the tariff on a variety of European food products. “Should the availability of motorcycles be hindered by these unjustified trade sanctions, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs,” Allard said. “The negative effects of the proposed sanctions will not only harm the motorcycle sales industry, but will spread through the aftermarket equipment sector, recreation equipment sales, the sports entertainment industry and further down the line.”
The European motorcycle industry
ACEM, (Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles), representing the motorcycle industry in Europe, isn’t happy with the proposed extra import tax on motorcycles.
ACEM’s Secretary General, Antonio Perlot, told FEMA: “An inclusion of motorcycles in a list of items subject to higher duties when entering the US would negatively impact manufacturers producing motorcycles up to 500 cc originating from Europe. Such a measure would not only negatively affect the European industry, but also the US consumer, economically and potentially in terms of choice.”
Antonio continues: “There is no justification for such measure – the motorcycle sector should not be dragged into trade disputes over food products. ACEM, as the representative of motorcycle manufacturers in Europe, is obviously following this issue closely.”
The European riders
FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations) is very concerned about the proposed tariff. There is no relation between the European vision on meat from the United States from cows treated with hormones and the European motorcycle industry. There is no reason why European manufacturers and American riders should be punished for a agricultural conflict between the United States and Europe. FEMA will send a written comment to the US Trade Representative this week to protest against these plans.
FEMA’s General Secretary Dolf Willigers: “We strongly oppose these tariffs for several reasons. First out of solidarity with our American fellow riders, who will not be able to buy and ride affordable small and mid-ranged European motorcycles. They use them for commuting and sports, since many of them are off-road and trial models. Secondly this affects European motorcycle manufacturers and suppliers, their workers and the families of the workers. Some smaller manufacturers are largely dependent on the export of their products to the United States and are directly threatened in their existence. People could lose their jobs and families could lose their income.”
Dolf continues: “This will also mean that European riders will be limited in their opportunities to choose a light or mid-range motorcycle. What worries me most is that a predictable answer from the European Union will be to have counter measures like reciprocal tariffs on American motorcycles. In 2015 Harley-Davidson alone sold 37,000 motorcycles in Europe. If the European Union decides to put a high tariff on American motorcycles, nobody can afford them anymore. That will have an impact on the lifestyle of many riders. This also will have an enormous impact on the livelihood of many European entrepreneurs and workers and their families. This kind of conflict should be solved by talks and negations, not by starting a trade-war at the cost of motorcyclists and workers in the motorcycle industry.”
Written by Wim Taal
Sources: American Motorcyclist Association, Office of United States Trade Representative