By on March 2, 2017

ktmbull

Much to the chagrin of a couple of generations of small truck enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States got into a bit of a trade tiff with France and Germany over a protectionist tariff the European countries had placed on imports of American chicken in the early 1960s. The result was a 25-percent tariff levied on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imported into the U.S. Brandy was listed to retaliate against the French while the light truck duty targeted commercial versions of the VW Type II.

Due to another trade dispute over a different foodstuff, in this case beef, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (OUSTR) has proposed a 100% tariff on small to medium displacement motorcycles and scooters manufactured in the European Union. Motorcycles and scooters from 50 to 500 cc displacement were tucked in at the end of a long list of beef, pork, and other food products covered under the proposed duties.

It should be pointed out this has absolutely nothing to do with President Trump’s protectionist remarks concerning Harley Davidson in his Feb. 28 speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. It’s part of a long-standing trade dispute and, in any case, the scooters and motorcycles that would be affected do not directly compete with any U.S. made bikes as Harley Davidson and the Polaris owned brands only produce large displacement vehicles.

The proposed duty actually has to do with an EU ban on the importation of beef raised with growth hormones, which is widespread in the U.S. cattle industry. That industry has lobbied for years to retaliate and a similar tariff proposed in 2008 was killed due to concerns by U.S. motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts. The current proposal is a result of the beef industry asking the government to act under procedures specified in the 1974 Trade Act.

As far as motorized two-wheeled vehicles are concerned, it seems makers of scooters like Vespa, Aprilia, and Piaggio would be most affected, but many off-road bikes that BMW, KTM, and Husqvarna manufacturer also have less than 500 cubic centimeters of displacement.

The American Motorcyclist Association has expressed concern that the increased tariffs would unemploy Americans who work for importers and dealers of those brands. There are also concerns that there will be fewer new riders if small-displacement dirt bikes get more expensive as those are often the first motorcycles for young people. KTM is a big player in the North American off-road market, as is Husqvarna.

The motorcycling community again mobilized (no pun intended) against the proposed duties.

“Should the availability of motorcycles be hindered by these unjustified trade sanctions, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs,” Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations, said in a January statement.

Allard’s remarks were amplified by AMA spokesman, Peter terHorst. “It’s not just the bikes — it’s also the bike dealers, and sales of apparel, and sales of parts,” he said.

Consumers will still have choices. There are plenty of Japanese and Chinese makers of small displacement dirt bikes and scooters that won’t be affected by the tariffs. In fact, the majority of imported small displacement motorcycles and scooters come from Asia. However, if their European competitors’ prices go up, Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, and the cheap Chinese scooter industry are not going to lower their own MSRPs.

The period for public comment closed at the end of January. Over 11,500 comments were submitted by members of the public and interested concerns, and a public hearing was held Feb. 15th. No word yet on when a decision from the OUSTR will be forthcoming.

[Image Sources: Wikimedia, KTM]

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46 Comments on “Beef Duty May Join Chicken Tax in the Barnyard, Would Raise Price of Euro Scooters and Motos 100 Percent...”


  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I keep trying to come up with something witty using the word “Moooootorcycle,” but I’m totally off my game today. :(

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Don’t forget Moo-peds and scooo-ters.

      But honestly, these things shouldn’t be involved because honestly they’re just too small a market to have much effect.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    The only place I could find that has a 100% import tax on US motorcycles is the Maldives, so I don’t know what DJT or H-D is talking about. Germany and Italy are at 6%, Japan is zero. But let’s beat up on Vespa because a Sportster is an acceptable alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Alternative Facts, baby!

    • 0 avatar

      Did you actually read the post before charging into the breach? This has nothing to do with Pres. Trump’s protectionist ideology or Harley Davidson. It was driven by the beef industry. As it happens, I think Mr. Trump is wrong on protectionism in general and tariffs in particular.

      From the post:

      “It should be pointed out this has absolutely nothing to do with President Trump’s protectionist remarks concerning Harley Davidson in his Feb. 28 speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. It’s part of a long-standing trade dispute and, in any case, the scooters and motorcycles that would be affected do not directly compete with any U.S. made bikes as Harley Davidson and the Polaris owned brands only produce large displacement vehicles.

      The proposed duty actually has to do with an EU ban on the importation of beef raised with growth hormones, which is widespread in the U.S. cattle industry. That industry has lobbied for years to retaliate and a similar tariff proposed in 2008 was killed due to concerns by U.S. motorcycle and scooter enthusiasts. The current proposal is a result of the beef industry asking the government to act under procedures specified in the 1974 Trade Act.”

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Kow-A-Saki

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Ronnie this is a good article as it highlights the stupidity of protectionism at the expense of the consumer.

    The chicken tax is the same. The “beef and chicken tax” force the consumer to pay more for product with a negative impact on the economy. It also reduces competition along with innovation.

    If people pay less for a product it leaves room to spend the money saved in other areas of the economy.

    US darmers can also breed cattle without hormones to challenge the EU beef producers. Fight fire with fire, not protectionism.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Why is this on the US? Is there an ascertaining US beef is unsafe? There are no reports of this. To the contrary wasn’t it the European beef industry that brought us Mad Cow disease a few years back. Why can’t Europe simply label US beef as having hormones and let the European consumer decide. I’ll tell you why, because the US beef would be cheaper and a lot of Europeans would buy it. That is the only reason.

      Of course you immediately call out the US.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Well, I’m a member of one of the generations hurt by the Chicken Tax. I still say it did more harm than good when you consider what kind of road whales™ we have today.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    You could just, you know, stop producing weird chemically beef..

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It’s not weird chemicals, it’s growth hormones. If that stuff is good enough for olympic athletes, it’s good enough for our cows.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      If the US food industry began producing food in the manner your ilk likes a lot of people in the world would starve. Fact.

      • 0 avatar
        orenwolf

        The “rest of the world” has been producing beef for a very long time without the help of growth hormones to do it. Of course, the “rest of the world” also eats less meat. which begs the question, when you need to start modifying your foodstock with chemicals in order for it to feed your population, is it time to start looking to how other countries manage to feed *their* populations without resorting to artificial means?

        Australia is a great example of a country with a *thriving* meat export industry that manages to feed its people *and* a sizeable chunk of the world without resorting to these practices.

        Demand better!

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          BAFM was talking more about the food industry as a whole, not beef or other livestock production.

          And BAFM: Using a term like “your ilk” promotes the tired “us vs. them” mentality that has soured the relationship between farmers and consumers for far too long.

          • 0 avatar
            orenwolf

            Fair. I was trying to stay on-topic. Sort of. :)

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Well, what you’ve said isn’t wrong. I love beef and other meats and I know my local meat producers work their tails off to make a living doing it, but it’s always in the back of my mind wondering how long we can keep it up. I can’t wait for lab-grown protein patties that taste just like regular meat.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Ok, fair enough on the “your ilk” statement but given the tone on these forums of late I sort of thought it was normal.

            And yes, I was speaking more towards modern food production as a whole. If you do away with antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, GMO crops and other things people love to deride “big food” for we will not be able to feed the current global population.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    Why don’t we just stop using growth hormones and it would be a non issue. We have plenty of farmers around here that don’t use it and they make decent money and the Angus is really quite good.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      It’s a bit like “why don’t we stop making ICE cars, since we have plenty of successful EV brands (well one….), and their cars are pretty darned good.”

      IOW, it’s a cost and scale issue. Growth hormones make cows more efficient at converting feed to beef. Hence beef gets cheaper, and require less inputs. The guys driving Teslas can afford to buy the hormone free stuff anyway. Besides, they’re vegan. But not so the average six hundred pounder living off of quarter pounders.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Because the average consumer believes it’s the farmer’s fault when food prices go up.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I don’t understand the inclusion of motorcycles in a beef tax, or for that matter, the inclusion of trucks and vans in a chicken tax.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Thumbs up, cbrworm. All it did was cause the prices to grow and the trucks to grow with it. Now we’re stuck with trucks almost twice as long as the typical short-bed and standing so tall you almost can’t climb into some of them without add-on steps.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        [Citation needed] on how the chicken tax affected the dimensions of pickups, with an emphasis on height.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Progression, Doc. Once the Japanese small truck got blocked, the American small truck grew by about 15%, starting with the Dakota mid-size. Now the Mid-sized truck is only about 5% smaller than a ’70s full size and today’s full size is longer and taller than it’s ever been before, even discounting 4×4 packages. No emphasis on height outside of that fact.

          I’ve lived the last 40 years as a driver–in fact, more than that. I’ve driven cars as old as 1960 and as new as 2016. I’ve owned cars through every decade between. I have experience and observation. The effects of the Chicken Tax were obvious, if you only bothered to look.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            I don’t necessarily disagree on the size increase*, but I was asking for data on how the Chicken Tax explicitly caused this increase.

            *It’s important to consider the size increase in the context of all vehicles as a whole becoming bulkier.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “*It’s important to consider the size increase in the context of all vehicles as a whole becoming bulkier.”

            —- Except sedans, which are now smaller than a 1960s compact.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            Crumples zones, side impact standards and roll over standards had nothing to do with it?

            Or the fact that almost nobody wants a regular cab truck with barely enough room for two.

            Incidentally, the small trucks in the rest of the world have grown larger too!

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Incidentally, the small trucks in the rest of the world have grown larger too!”

            Tell that to the Fiat Strada.
            Tell that to the Chevy Tornado.

            There are still small trucks in the world and it is by no means impossible to bring them into the US (albeit improbable.)

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      In progressive dystopias, the government’s job is to split the population into groups/categories/classifications/whatever else the feeble progressive mind believes is a useful activity; then target their theft and harassment efforts primarily towards those groups small enough to be least able to negatively effect any insiders’ reelection effort.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      cbrworm, in trade disputes the practice is to retaliate with tariffs on goods of the other side whose total value as exports to your country is roughly equal to the value of the goods that you’re trying to sell to them. I.e., “we’ll cost you the same amount of export earnings that you’re costing us”.

      In selecting specific goods to target, you also try to target goods whose producers will not only feel the pain, but will take that pain to their political leaders and pressure them to negotiate a resolution to the dispute – which you hope will give you additional leverage in those negotiations.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Those bikes still wouldn’t have any effect. Almost nobody buys European low-powered bikes here in the States.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @vulpine – WTF?
          Dirt bikes! The vast majority are under 500cc. The European bikes are excellent off-roaders. It is a big industry. KTM is the fastest growing bike company in the USA.

          There has been a resurgence of sales in small displacement street bikes. New people are entering the market. Harley and Victory cater to Boomers with cruisers. They will die if they cannot attract new buyers.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            If they’re such a big industry, why don’t I ever see them? All I ever see are the Japanese-built bikes off road.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Vulpine,
            Wow! Trailbikes are a massive business.

            Many kids from the fringes of suburbia to beyond has one. Even city slickers have them up to geriatrics.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Vulpine, I forgot to add. Euro trailbikes are as competitive as Japanese bikes.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            Having owned a KTM I’d take my chances on a Harley. At least when it breaks the dealer isn’t 3 states over with parts aparantly sourced from Ferrari based on the prices.

            While I would hate to see them go their market share is small and whatever gap their departure created would be served just fine by the Japanese who build excellent bikes as well. FWIW my “look at me I am a cheap a$$” KLR 650 served me better than my KTM Adventure. Yes, the adventure was better to ride but the KLR always started and never ended a ride on a flatbed. The Japanese vs European car stereotypes apply somewhat to bikes as well.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Big Al From ‘Murica – some of KTM’s bigger street offerings have been known to be temperamental. I don’t know anyone with a KTM dirt bike that has been disappointed and that is coming from a guy that spent over 10 years in the executive of a local dirt bike club.

            @Vulpine – Japanese bikes are…….wait for it….. cheaper.
            I doubt you’d see many hardcore off-road riders like the KTM guys I know. We rode all year round and the trails we typically rode upon would be inaccessible to any other motorized vehicle.
            Oh and KTM makes billions. Small potatoes compared to the Japanese but is impressive for a small company.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al From 'Murica

            @Lou. You may be right as my experience was based an adventure 990. If you are taking that thing on single track trails you are stronger than I am. And yes, temprumental is being nice.

            Were I to buy a European Bike from a dirt bike maker I want a Husqvarna Vitpilen. It isn’t a dirtbike though but I am a fan of Husqvarna trail bikes. Yes, they make more than weed eaters.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    The rage at all the burger places in Western Canada (the heart of the Canadian cattle industry) is to have beef that is raised without the use of hormones or steroids. Many have signs saying that and feature it prominently in their advertising, A&W is one chain.

    Many of the high end steakhouses also feature hormone and steroid free beef. It commands a premium for the farmer, so a win all around. And no, burger prices have not gone up.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    So much for getting Euro Dirt Bikes into the USA. The Japanese are very very happy.

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