The saga began when, in April, 2021, the European Union (EU) and Belgian Ministry of Economy stripped Harley-Davidson of its Binding Origin Information (BOI) credentials. That prompted both U.S. and EU motorcycle associations to rally behind the Motor Company. The tactic paid off, with European officials delaying additional taxes on American motorcycles over 500cc until the end of 2021. That wasn’t enough for the U.S. and EU coalition, however.
Now, 113 transatlantic associations are pressuring EU and U.S. leadership to commit to canceling future and current rebalancing tariffs. Led by the Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles (ACEM) and the United States Motorcycle Manufacturers Association (USMMA), the alliance called upon the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the United States Joe Biden to remedy the situation at the European Union-United States Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on June 15, 2021.
“Our association asks the Transatlantic Leadership to guarantee that the negotiations on steel overcapacity are concluded without delay,” stated - said ACEN secretary general Antonio Perlot. “And not to wait another six months in which hundreds of millions of euros in sectors not related to the issue will be spent on unjustified duties instead of investments in research and development essential for the restart of the economies of the Union as well as the United States.”
Retaliatory efforts by both sides date back to 2018, when the Trump administration and EU started implementing higher taxes on aluminum and steel imports. Those tariffs extended to the motorcycle market, forcing American brands such as Harley-Davidson to consider new manufacturing options. With the motorcycle industry still adapting to COVID-related production issues, the ACEM and USMMA hope a return to amicable trade relations helps the manufacturers stabilize in such an uncertain time.
Despite avoiding a 56-percent tariff, Harley’s import tax still increases from 6 percent to 31 percent after losing BOI status. Even if EU and U.S. leaders scrap the proposed tax hikes, there’s no telling if officials will retroactively revoke tariffs imposed since the beginning of the trade dispute. Of course, this is just the latest chapter in the saga, and we anticipate more news on this front following the Brussels summit.