It may serve as an unfortunate indicator of what we may be seeing often in the years to come. The American Motorcyclist Association has announced that the organization is fighting a 100% tariff on motorcycles that will effectively double the price of European motorcycles with displacements between 51cc and 500cc sold in the United States. There are many manufacturers that would be affected by these tariffs including Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Husqvarna, KTM, Piaggio and Vespa among others. What is the cause of this sudden potential impediment to riding? Beef. Or more specifically hormones in beef. Europe doesn’t like the hormones that go into building bigger, stronger, faster cattle and have placed sanctions on imported US beef. Looking around for something on which to retaliate the Office of the United States Trade Representative chose – of all things – motorcycles. In what might be one of the larger understatements of the year, AMA vice-president Wayne Allard stated “there is no logical link between motorcycles and beef”. Beyond a tasty steak after a long ride Mr. Allard has that right. This confounding tact of a tariff on motorcycles has been taken by the USTR before. In 2008 they tried the same thing but eventually backed down due to opposition and instead placed tariffs on European food stuffs which to many would seen more appropriate.
How you make ask does this affect us in Canada? Often times models brought to Canada are dependent on the same model being brought to the US. If some or all of those models become too expensive to sell in the US, we may not see them here either. With luck and effort this new assault on motorcycling will be defeated but in the long term it may be a fight repeated. An active tariff on motorcycles has been seen before in the United States as in the 1980’s when Japanese bikes over 750 cc were subject to them. Unlike the current issue, that tariff was an effort to protect a domestic industry .