After encouraging Harley-Davidson boycott, Trump blames EU for weak sales

Rebecca Klar
York Dispatch
President Donald Trump stands in the rain with members of Bikers for Trump and supporters after saying the Pledge of Allegiance, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, at the clubhouse of Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. Trump's hand is covering a Harley-Davidson racing patch on the man's shirt. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Donald Trump, who blessed a Harley-Davidson boycott last summer, shifted to supporting the company after it announced lower first quarter sales, which the iconic motorcycle maker blamed in part on increased tariffs. 

The company, with a large plant in Springettsbury Township, last year announced plans to move some facilities overseas because of tariffs imposed by the European Union in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on EU products.

The announcement drew the president's ire.

Trump said in an August 2018 tweet that it was "great" that "many Harley-Davidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas."

But in a Tuesday, April 23, morning tweet, the president commiserated with the company and pledged retaliation.

"So unfair to U.S. We will Reciprocate!" he wrote. 

Harley-Davidson's worldwide retail sales decreased 3.8% in the first quarter of 2019; international sales were down 3.3% and U.S. retail sales were down 4.2%, according to a company release.

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Harley-Davidson said in a company release that operating income decreased because of lower revenues, unfavorable product mix and increased tariffs.

The company also is grappling with finding new customers. Harley-Davidson aims to garner 2 million new riders in the U.S. through 2027 with its More Roads plan. 

— Rebecca Klar can be reached at or via Twitter @RebeccaKlar_.