Some major area companies object to Trump’s tariffs


Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:08 pm

Three of southeastern Wisconsin’s most prominent businesses have raised objections to President Donald Trump’s tariffs.

Trump recently announced tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, with some exceptions for certain allies, plus tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports.

The actions have some businesses concerned.

In a series of tweets after the president announced the steel and aluminum tariffs, brewing giant MillerCoors said it was disappointed in the decision and said “it is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry.”

“We buy as much domestic can sheet aluminum as is available; however, there simply isn’t enough supply to satisfy the demands of American beverage makers like us. American workers and American consumers will suffer as a result of this misguided tariff,” MillerCoors tweeted.

The brewer has upward of 1,400 employees in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson Inc. warned that potential retaliatory tariffs would have “a significant impact” on the company after the European Union included motorcycles on a list of products targeted in response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

“A punitive, retaliatory tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any market would have a significant impact on our sales, our dealers, their suppliers and our customers in those markets,” Harley said in a statement.

Europe is the second-largest market for Harley motorcycles, with 39,773 bikes sold at retail last year, accounting for almost 42 percent of international retail sales. Retail dealers in the U.S. sold 147,972 motorcycles in 2017.

“We support free and fair trade,” Harley’s statement said. “Import tariffs on steel and aluminum will drive up costs for all products made with these raw materials, regardless of their origin.”

Increasing international sales to 50 percent of revenue is among the key goals of a 10-year plan Harley unveiled last year. The company is also no stranger to challenges of international trade, facing import tariffs as high as 100 percent in some countries.

To get around those trade barriers, Harley has established assembly facilities in Brazil, India and, most recently, Thailand.

Major retailers from across the United States, including Menomonee Falls-based Kohl’s Corp., sent a letter to Trump urging him not to impose tariffs on goods imported from China.

The letter to Trump was signed by 24 companies, including Kohl’s, and also included Walmart Inc., Target Corp., J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Ikea North America Services LLC and Macy’s Inc.

“In the U.S., those who can afford less pay more because the U.S. levies the highest tariffs on basic consumer goods,” the letter states. “For example, families shopping in our stores pay higher prices because America already levies import taxes as much as 32 and 67 percent on basic clothes and shoes. Applying any additional broad-based tariff would worsen this inequity and punish American working families with higher prices on household basics like clothing, shoes, electronics and home goods.”

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