Trump keeps pressure on Harley-Davidson to maintain production in US

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President Donald Trump kept up his running feud with iconic American manufacturer Harley-Davidson on Thursday, urging the Wisconsin maker of motorcycles not to transfer some production operations overseas.

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"Harley-Davidson, please build those beautiful motorcycles in the U.S. Build them in the USA. Don't get cute with us. Don't get cute," Trump said. "I spent a lot of time with them. Build them in the USA. Your customers won't be happy if you don't."

Trump’s comments came at a groundbreaking for a massive $10 billion factory complex being built in Harley’s home state by the Taiwanese company Foxconn.

"Today we're seeing the results of the pro-America agenda. America First, Make America Great Again. Greatest phrase ever used in politics, I suspect," the president said.

Harley-Davidson said this week that it would move some of its production operations out of the U.S. to remain competitive in the face of trade unrest between the U.S. and Europe.

The president was irked by the Milwaukee-based company's announcement and tweeted about it for three days, writing that any shift in production would "be the beginning of the end" for the American manufacturer and even threatening retaliatory taxes.

Trump's escalating trade dispute has caused long-time U.S. allies to respond with retaliatory tariffs.

Harley’s move is to avoid European Union tariffs on the motorcycles that jumped from 6 percent to 31 percent, adding on average $2,200 to the cost of every motorcycle exported from the U.S. to Europe.

Harley-Davidson will continue to manufacture motorcycles in the U.S. for American customers. The move is to serve customers in other parts of the globe.

Meanwhile, Harley chairman and CEO Matt Levatich denied in a tweet that he said something derogatory about Trump.

“It’s shameful we live in a time when people create fake quotes. There’s one attributed to me on Twitter. I have not, nor would I ever speak about the President of the United States or anyone else in that way,” Levatich said.

Foxconn is the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer and assembles Apple iPhones and other products for tech companies.

It chose Wisconsin after being prodded by Trump and others, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose district will include the plant.

The project could employ up to 13,000 people.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this article.