A federal bureaucracy called The Office of United States Trade Representative wants to impose a tariff of at least 100 percent on small motorcycles made in Europe. The American Motorcyclist Association is outraged and the leaders of that venerable organization have a point.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is supposed to develop and coordinate U.S. international trade. The executive of this low-profile branch of government is a a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade adviser, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues.
The proposed tariff has nothing to do with saving Harley and Indian from BMW, Ducati or Vespa which are among the manufacturers that will be affected. This particular proposal is about Barack Obama’s “legacy.” A tricky term that currently seems to mean the scores of executive orders and other unilateral decrees that the last president tried to cram down America’s collective throat in the last weeks of his term.
The pending tariff is part of what is formally known as the European Union Beef Dispute. For the last couple of decades, the European Economic Union has largely banned the importation of American beef because Europe objects to six hormones that are routinely used to grow American steers bigger faster. Those hormones are estradiol 17-b, testosterone, progesterone, zeranol, trenbolone acetate (TBA) and melengestrol acetate (MGA).
In return the beef lobby has asked Washington to impose the punitive tariff on a long list of items including Roquefort cheese, chestnuts, chocolate, mustard and pears. You can read the entire dreary list and the proposed regulation here.
The problem, according to the AMA and most of the American motorcycle industry are the last two items added to the at the end of December – motorcycles.
“There is no logical link between motorcycles and beef,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations said in a very angry press release. “It is absurd to even consider such a move.”
“If the agency enacts this motorcycle tariff,” the release continued, “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.”
“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.”
Public comment on the proposed new tariff ends next week. If you agree there is “no logical link between motorcycles and beef,” you can sign the AMA petition here.