Tariffs Haven’t Been Good to HD so Far
Harley-Davidson has struggled for the last several years, but more recently some of the tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have hurt the company’s profits even more. Trump is now trying to change that. He is currently in India discussing a trade agreement with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If things go right, this could be good news for Harley-Davidson’s global sales initiatives.
Coming to a trade deal may be more difficult than expected. The U.S. has been trying to solidify a deal for a couple of years now, but neither side is willing to compromise, according to The New York Times. Both countries are worried about protecting workers—an understandable apprehension to a new deal.
Currently, India has agreed to slash tariffs on motorcycle imports from 100 percent to 50 percent. Trump still thinks that’s too high, and is working to get it lowered further. He is also working towards lowering tariffs on bikes with 1,600cc or more, which would seem to benefit both Harley and its competitor Indian Motorcycle. These tariff slashes could happen because most motorcycle companies from India focus on smaller displacement bikes.
However, it’s important to note that Harley-Davidson already established a factory in India. This was done to get around tariffs, so lowering tariffs so that Harley can import bikes really doesn’t matter now. Harley already invested in a factory abroad. Its other American competitors (there’s only really Indian Motorcycle) could benefit, though.
I do need to note that any new trade deal will impact more than motorcycle sales. Sales of bikes are only one aspect of the overall deal. It will be interesting to see what happens with this. India is a huge market, and any advantage of tariffs we can get could have big impacts.