AMA Can’t Budge US Trade Representative Over Motorcycle Import Tariff
What Will It Mean to the 51-to-500 cc Motorcycle Market?by TJ Hinton, on
The ongoing battle between U.S. beef producers and the E.U. is, well, ongoing, and it seems certain that the imported, small-displacement motorcycle dealers are about to become part of the collateral damage. You see, The Powers That Be reckon that the best way to punish the European Union for not buying our beef is to slap a 100-percent tariff on 51 cc-to-500 cc imported motorcycles. That broad net is going to catch up almost all scooters, definitely the ones capable of safe highway speeds anyway, and it’s also going to hit the racers who depend on European manufacturers for their machines— on- and off-road alike. It’s going to affect Millennials, who tend to prefer the smaller rides as a matter of pragmatic frugality, and as a means to reduce their own contribution to our collective carbon footprint. As bad as all that is, the worst part is what is going to happen to the dealerships that rely on the sale of these machines to survive.
Continue reading for more on the import tariff.
<What Does It Mean?
American Motorcyclist Association president Rob Dingman had this to say on the subject, "The U.S. Trade Representative is toying with the livelihoods of American families whose businesses haven’t fully recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. These dealerships will go under if this tariff is enacted."
If that sounds like an overstatement, consider the current push to grab more entry-level riders. Think about what doubling the cost of ownership will do to sales of machines aimed at folks who, most likely, are on a very tight budget. Smell what I’m cookin’ yet?
This has been going on for a while now — I told y’all about it in a January article — so what changed, you ask? Well, after thousands of emails and tons of lobbying pressure brought to bear by the AMA, the USTR had this to say: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a congressional committee that he is “sympathetic” to American motorcyclists, dealerships and others, but he cannot remove small-displacement European motorcycles from a proposed import tariff while negotiations continue in a dispute with the European Union over U.S. beef imports.
Do ya hear that folks? Everybody can relax now because we have his sympathy... too bad we can’t take that to the bank, right? Honestly, there’s never a good time for something like this to happen, but this is a particularly bad time considering the market-wide move to rope in the Millennial buyers early. None of the American manufacturers are likely to benefit from this move, but I bet the Asian builders are just a’quiver with anticipatory glee since their products will be filling the vacuum left by the Euros.
If all this pisses you off as much as it does me, as well it should, you’re running out of time to do something about it. Join the AMA and also contact your congressional representatives to let them know just how you feel about an unrelated squabble about beef hormones turning into a threat against mom-n-pop dealerships and their employees. Do it now, because who knows how long it will be before they start eyeballing the larger-displacement imports.