President Biden’s historic agreement with the European Union on steel and aluminum trade is a win for manufacturers across the country, including in Wisconsin.

As the President and CEO of Harley Davidson put it, “Today’s news is a big win for Harley-Davidson and our customers, employees and dealers in Europe. Our thanks go out to President Biden, Secretary Raimundo and the U.S. Administration, for their efforts in this negotiation.”

This U.S.-EU agreement is a win for American consumers, workers, manufacturing, and the environment.

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Milwaukee Business Journal: Biden’s EU tariff deal ‘big win’ for Harley-Davidson; may provide relief for other manufacturers
[Rich Kirchen, 10/30/21]

An announcement by President Joe Biden’s administration about a deal with the European Union on steel tariffs could provide relief to Wisconsin manufacturers that use steel and would allow Harley-Davidson Inc. to avoid a potential total tariff rate of 56% in Europe — eliciting plaudits from Harley’s CEO and a Milwaukee-based manufacturing group.

The United States and European Union have agreed to end a dispute over U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2018, according to reports from Reuters and other international news organizations.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the agreement deal will maintain U.S. “Section 232” tariffs of 25% on steel and 10%on aluminum, but will allow “limited volumes” of EU-produced metals into the United States duty-free.

In return, the EU will drop retail tariffs it threatened to assess starting in December against high-profile American industries as a retaliatory move, NPR reported. Harley-Davidson was among the industries that would have been impacted, thus making its motorcycle prices uncompetitive in Europe.

Harley-Davidson (NYSE: HOG) issued a press release Saturday extending its thanks to the Biden administration for reaching a solution to the tariff dispute.

“Today’s news is a big win for Harley-Davidson and our customers, employees and dealers in Europe,” said Harley’s chairman president and CEO Jochen Zeitz. “Our thanks go out to President Biden, Secretary Raimundo and the U.S. Administration, for their efforts in this negotiation. We are excited that this brings an end to a conflict that was not of our making, and in which Harley-Davidson had no place.”

Zeitz called the agreement “an important course correction in U.S.-EU trade relations, that will allow us to further Harley-Davidson’s position as the most desirable motorcycle brand in the world.”

A West Allis-based industry group that includes John Deere, Caterpillar, Komatsu Mining and CNH Industrial has been urging Biden to reverse former Trump’s steel-tariff policy. Other southeast Wisconsin members of the AEM include Husco, Milwaukee Tool, Briggs & Stratton, Badger Meter, Twin Disc, Weasler, Enerpac, Caterpillar Mining, Kohler and Wacker.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) Dennis Slater told the Milwaukee Business Journal in August that the tariffs caused price of steel throughout the U.S. to increase very quickly. That caused costs to increase for American manufacturers that use steel and made them less competitive with manufacturers in other countries, Slater said.

The new agreement will help address steel shortages and soaring prices that have hurt equipment manufacturers, while also addressing overcapacity from China and preventing leakage of Chinese steel into the U.S. market, the AEM said in a statement issued Saturday night. The organization hopes that both sides will build on the momentum from the agreement to remove the remaining obstacles to free and fair trade, Slater said.

“President Biden deserves a lot of credit for getting back to the negotiating table with our European partners and reaching an agreement that, while not perfect, goes a long way in restoring free and fair trade across the Atlantic,” Slater said. “The tariffs on steel and aluminum have increased the cost of production of U.S. agriculture and construction equipment, cost our industry thousands of jobs, and hurt the U.S. economy.”

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