USTR decides against motorcycle tariff

European bikes will not be subject to 100% duty

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 16, 2009
The U.S. trade representative has decided against imposing a trade tariff on small-displacement European motorcycles.

The USTR considered adding motorcycles with engine displacements between 51cc-500cc to a list of European products that would be subject to a 100% import duty. The tariff, first applied in 1999 with the authorization of the World Trade Organization, was initiated as retaliation in a dispute with the European Union over hormone-fed American beef.

In 2008, trade officials reviewed the tariff and began accepting comments on goods to add or remove from the list. Approximately 600 comments were submitted from groups and individuals including the American Motorcyclist Association and the Motorcycle Industry Council. After reviewing the comments, the USTR released an updated list of goods subject to the tariff on Jan. 15 and motorcycles were not included.

“This is great news not only for U.S. enthusiasts of these European motorcycles but also for the small- and medium-sized American businesses that sell and import these machines,” says Ed Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations. “But we have to remain vigilant to ensure that these bikes don’t slip onto the tariff list in the future.”

The USTR decided not to include small displacement bikes, including Vespa scooters, in the tariff on European goods.Imposing the tariff on motorcycles would have affected manufacturers such as Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Bultaco, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, Husaberg, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, TM and Vespa. In December, the presidents of Piaggio’s and KTM’s American operations said the tariff would have put them out of business.

The MIC also welcomed the news that motorcycles would not be added to the list.

“The MIC and the motorcycling community at large thank the USTR for making the appropriate decision not to levy increased tariffs on European motorcycles in connection with a very specific beef-related dispute,” says Kathy Van Kleeck, MIC senior vice president for government relations. “With climate change, energy conservation and traffic congestion being among the most pressing issues facing our nation today, use of motorcycles should be encouraged rather than discouraged. Many of the motorcycles that were under consideration for tariff imposition are the most fuel efficient available in the marketplace, while at the same time easing traffic congestion and parking capacity issues.”

The updated list released by the USTR included 100% tariffs on pears, chewing gum and various meat products. The USTR also increased the duty on Roquefort cheese to 300% from 100%.