What does beef have to do with motorcycles, you ask? That is a question the AMA and others are asking right now as well.
The Office of United States Trade Representative requested comments on Dec. 28 regarding its proposal to include tariffs on motorcycles with an engine size between 51cc and 500cc imported from the European Union. If it were to pass, this bill would affect many U.S. motorcycle dealers who import and sell European motorcycles.
[pullquote]The EU bans the import of beef and beef products produced from animals that include growth-hormones. The effect of the EU ban is to prohibit the import of all but specially-produced U.S. beef and beef products. The trade deficit amounts to $116.8 million each year, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Concessions had been made to include agriculture-related products to help cover this amount until recently. In 2009, USTR said it would modify the list of products, adding some replacement products which were outside of the category. It’s a complicated matter that involves the U.S. beef lobby and the EU, and the motorcycle industry is being thrown in the middle as a bargaining chip. [/pullquote]
The majority of motorcycles under 500cc sold in the U.S. are through small, local shops, according to the AMA’s comments to USTR. Small and medium-sized dealerships employ a substantial number of Americans to sell motorcycles, equipment, clothing and merchandise and for vehicle maintenance and repairs and general operations.
But the AMA rightly notes that those who will suffer most are the American families that use small-displacement motorcycles for outdoor recreation.
[pullquote]Many of the European-produced motorcycles in the affected categories are available at prices that allow entire families to enjoy countless hours together outdoors. A tariff that threatens the supply of motorcycles does a disservice to these families and to the outdoor recreation industry, the petition said.[/pullquote]
All necessary steps should be taken to remove European-produced motorcycles between 51cc and 500cc from the list of proposed products to be subject to a tariff in retaliation for the E.U. – U.S. beef hormone dispute.
[pullquote]“Should the availability of motorcycles be hindered by these unjustified trade sanctions, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs,” said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations. “The negative effects of the proposed sanctions will not only harm the motorcycle sales industry, but will spread through the aftermarket equipment sector, recreation equipment sales, the sports entertainment industry and further down the line.”[/pullquote]
If the USTR enacts this tariff, serious and potentially irreversible harm will be done to American small- and medium-sized business owners selling the vehicles and to American families who buy these motorcycles for commuting and outdoor recreation.
[pullquote]“There is no logical link between motorcycles and beef,” said Allard. “It is absurd to even consider such a move.”[/pullquote]
The AMA is urging riders and the industry to make their views known on this issue before the Jan. 30 deadline by adding your name to the petition at http://tinyurl.com/h62kpc5.