The AMA (American Motorcyclist Association) testified this week against a proposed motorcycle tariff, asserting that it would harm US consumers and hit families that participate in outdoor recreation.
A proposed US trade tariff of 100 per cent on European motorcycles imported into the US has mobilised the AMA into action. “Many of the European-produced motorcycles in the affected categories are available at reasonable prices that allow for entire families to enjoy countless hours together outdoors, strengthening the family unit,” American Motorcyclist Association President and CEO, Rob Dingman, said during a public hearing of the Office of the US Trade Representative’s Section 301 Committee.
The proposed tariff would harm US consumers by pricing affected models beyond the reach of American families, Dingman said during the hearing. Motorcycles should be removed from the list of products included in the proposed tariff he argued.
So what’s the beef? Well, it all comes down to hormones! Apparently, the EU is miffed about US beef because of hormone treatment, which has led to a range of US beef products being banned from the EU. Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t gone down well with the beef industry in the US so the Trade Representative is seeking leverage in negotiations.
It’s a complicated subject and as we’re no experts on the matter, we think it best to avoid going any deeper than that.
But let’s face it. What has beef and motorcycles got to do with each other? Absolutely nothing as far as we can see, and the AMA is in total agreement. The lack of an agricultural tie between the two products runs counter to sound trade policy, Dingman told the committee.
“A tariff that threatens to significantly raise the retail cost of these motorcycles or curtail their supply, holds the potential to cause irreversible damage to outdoor recreation and the families that participate in it,” he said.
The tariff would affect motorcycles with engines displacing 51cc to 500cc from Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM and Vespa.
“American motorcyclists are unnecessarily caught in the crossfire of this completely unrelated trade dispute,” Dingman said. “Since my organisation represents motorcycle-riding consumers, I can objectively and without vested commercial interest, assure you that this action will do more to harm individual Americans than it will to leverage the European Union.”
Motorcyclists sent more than 10,300 emails to Congress on this issue, posted more than 9,400 comments to Regulations.gov, and sent nearly 5,300 emails to President Donald Trump. Of the comments submitted via Regulations.gov, 82 percent came from motorcyclists.
European makers of 51cc-399cc motorcycles used for racing provide nearly half the units available to US consumers, and nearly a quarter of the market in the 400-500cc class. There are no significant US-made options for consumers in those market segments.
In the on-road motorcycle segment, 100 per cent of the models 300cc and smaller are imported to the United States from abroad.
The Office of the US Trade Representative tried this same tactic in 1998 and 2008, but the efforts were 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.
Others testifying against the tariff this week included Carroll Gittere, president of Powersports Data Solutions; Iain McPhie and Ritchie Thomas of Squire Patton Boggs; John Hinz, president of KTM North America Inc. and Husqvarna Motorcycles North America Inc.; Mario di Maria, president and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas Inc.; Rick Alcon, owner of R&S Powersports Group; Tim Cotter, vice president of MX Sports; and Tim Buche, president and CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Council.