AMA fights import duty on Euro bikes

Proposed tariff would double cost of European motorcycles

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Dec. 09, 2008
The American Motorcyclist Association is opposing a proposed import duty that would double the cost of European motorcycles.

The AMA has written to the Office of the U.S. trade Representative to oppose a plan that would place a 100 percent duty on more than 100 European goods including motorcycles with an engine displacement in the 51cc-250cc and 251cc-500cc categories.

The proposed tariff would double the price of European machines from brands such as Aprilia, BMW, Husaberg, KTM, Piaggio and Vespa.

Trade officials proposed the import duty as retaliation for the European Union’s ban on American beef treated with growth hormones. EU officials have not lifted the 20-year-old ban despite orders from the World Trade Organization to remove it.

Small-displacement European machines like Vespa's scooters may no longer be a low-cost transportation option if a proposed tariff proceeds as planned.The proposed import duty on European goods would amount to a value of $116.8 million, equal to the amount the U.S. beef industry claims it loses each year as a result of the European ban.

“There is no logical link between European motorcycles and the dispute over beef,” says Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, in his comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. “Imposing these stiff tariffs on motorcycles would do nothing to resolve the trade dispute, but would punish American buyers of European motorcycles.”

U.S. trade officials have yet to finalize which categories would be subject to the tariff, and the AMA’s statement argues that the tariff would harm American consumers.

“Trade disputes residing concretely within the boundaries of the agricultural industry should not be resolved with trade sanctions levied against non-agricultural products,” says Moreland. “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.”