The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) today strongly criticized the Bush Administration's consideration of a possible 100 percent tariff on a broad range of popular European motorcycles and scooters in retaliation for European Union (EU) restrictions on imported American beef.
"In this tough recessionary climate, it's ludicrous for the U.S. Trade Representative to even consider imposing a 100 percent motorcycle and scooter tariff, because the move will cost countless Americans their jobs," said Ed Moreland, AMA vice present for government relations.
"This very day, the Administration and the U.S. Congress are planning to bail out troubled U.S. automakers to the tune of billions of dollars to save American jobs," Moreland said. "How, in good conscience, can the U.S. Trade Representative turn around and propose a measure that will spell the end of many motorcycle and scooter dealerships, and put their employees out in the street?"
U.S. trade officials are looking at a list of more than 100 European goods for the possible imposition of 100 percent import duties in response to the EU's ongoing import ban on American beef treated with growth hormones. EU officials haven't lifted the 20-year-old ban despite a World Trade organization order to end it. Now the U.S. wants to impose $116.8 million in import duties to equal the amount of money it claims the U.S beef industry loses each year because of the ban.
Included on the hit list are motorcycles and scooters with engines displacing 51cc to 500cc, representing popular on- and off-highway machines from brands such as Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husaberg, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM and Vespa.
"In America, the majority of motorcycles and scooters under 500cc are sold through local dealerships," Moreland said. "Collectively, these dealerships contribute to the employment of a substantial number of Americans working in sales, service, parts and general operations. Unjustified trade sanctions on European-produced motorcycles and scooters will choke off this vital business, dealerships will close at an alarming rate, and the negative effects will spread downstream through the aftermarket and recreational-equipment sectors, and even the motorsports entertainment industry. Countless Americans will find themselves without jobs."
The AMA sent comments to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative by a Dec. 8 deadline to express the opinions of the Association's 300,000 members on the possible tariffs.
""It is simply unconscionable that motorcycles and scooters are on the list in the first place. They have no place in a trade war over beef," Moreland said. "Furthermore, we find it tragically ironic that, as part of the auto bailout plan, federal lawmakers are considering requirements for American car makers to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, and yet the motorcycles and scooters that the U.S. trade representative is considering for the 100 percent tariff get three to five times better fuel economy than many cars."
It is unknown when U.S. officials will decide on which European goods will be hit with the stiff tariffs.