Categories: Features

Office of United States Trade Representative Wants To Add 100% Tariff To 51-500cc EU-Manufactured Bikes

In what appears to be a zombie-like resurrection of a formerly killed attempt from 2009, a proposal to impose a 100% tariff on European motorcycles between 51 – 500cc imported to the U.S. has risen from the dead and could result in, for example, a KTM RC390 costing a total of over $11,000 after the proposed tariff gets applied! The very same cost doubling would apply to any other motorcycle imported from the EU between 51 – 500cc if this tariff goes into effect. That Sword of Damocles would hand over a lot of exotic lightweight streetbikes, dirt bikes, Italian scooters, trials bikes, etc. It could prove quite catastrophic for major OEMs like KTM and Piaggio in addition to the other businesses that sell and service their products.

A great bike for $5,500. For $11,000, most riders will look elsewhere when the competition is retailing for slightly less than the KTM’s undoubled price.

This dastardly deed is currently being perpetrated in an Office of United States Trade Representative “Request to Reinstate Action Taken in Connection with European Union’s Measures Concerning Meat and Meat Products.” What do “meat of bovine animals, fresh or chilled” have in common with “Roquefort cheese in original loaves;” “cut flowers and flower buds, suitable for bouquets or ornamental purposes;” “dried tomatoes, in powder;” “prepared or preserved liver of goose;” “corned beef in airtight containers;” “chewing gum, whether or not sugar-coated;” “prepared mustard;” “motorcycles (incl. mopeds) and cycles, fitted with reciprocating internal-combustion piston engine with cylinder capacity of over 50 cc but not over 250 cc;” and “motorcycles (incl. mopeds) and cycles, fitted with reciprocating internal-combustion piston engine with cylinder capacity of over 250 cc but not over 500 cc” have in common? They’re all included in the list of items “under consideration for the imposition of increased duties in accordance with the WTO DSB authorization in the EU-Beef dispute.” Yes, the bastards tried to hide their egregious fuckery in a beef bill.


Oddly, both Motorcycles and “guts, bladders and stomachs of animals (other than fish)” are involved in an international beef dispute? And why do the fish get a free ride? Aren’t their guts a tad more similar to beef bladders than a 250cc scooter is?

Last year’s Vespa Primavera 150 retailed for $4,899. The tariff would make it $9,798 – a likely no sale, no matter how pretty the 2017 model’s red paint is.

In case you think we’re being hyperbolic, consider this: Most motorcycle dealerships are small- to medium-sized businesses, providing income to the owners and the other people employed by the dealership, who, in turn, spend their money at local businesses for necessities like food. If levied, the 100% tariff could cause these businesses to fail, putting their employees out of work and reducing spending in other local businesses.

Clearly, this tariff will affect more than just the European manufacturers of the motorcycles, which the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) says includes: Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM, and Vespa. The lost sales of these marques from the tariff could also ripple through the aftermarket from companies that sell products directly related motorcycles in question to protective gear manufacturers to even, possibly venues where these motorcycles could be ridden.

All is not doom and gloom, however. First, back in 2009 the same 100% tariff for 51–500cc motorcycles from the EU was proposed, but it was defeated prior to wreaking havoc on the EU manufacturers and the U.S. dirt bike market. Second, we still have more than two weeks to comment on the proposal. There are two ways to comment: submit them electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: or add your voice to those of other motorcyclists through an AMA web form. All comments should be respectful and cite specific examples of how this ill-conceived tariff will negatively impact our sport, the people who participate in it, and those who pay their bills from jobs associated with motorcycling.

For those who want to do more than just comment on the proposal and actually prefer to show up for the Wednesday, February 15, 2017 hearings in Rooms 1 and 2 at 1724 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20508, beginning at 9:30 a.m., you will need to fill out the comment form with the argument you plan to make at the hearing and state your intention of being there.

As with the failed 2009 attempt to impose this tariff, we expect the AMA’s official opposition statement should be similar to the one previously submitted: “There is no logical link between European motorcycles and the dispute over beef. Imposing these stiff tariffs on motorcycles would do nothing to resolve the trade dispute, but would punish American buyers of European motorcycles. A 100 percent ad valorem, or higher, tariff on these motorcycles will cause serious and potentially irreversible harm to American small- and medium-sized business owners selling the vehicles. Additionally, citizens will be denied access to certain models of competition and recreation motorcycles that contribute to the lifestyle and well-being of millions of American families.”

MO will be following developments closely and will keep our readers apprised of any new information as it becomes available.

Evans Brasfield

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Evans Brasfield
Tags: beefeuOffice of United States Trade Representativetariff

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