Trump warns Harley-Davidson of 'big tax' for shifting some production abroad

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE accused Harley-Davidson on Tuesday of using the European Union's retaliatory tariffs on its motorcycles as an "excuse" for shifting some of its production abroad and warned that the company would not be able to sell its bikes back to the U.S. without "paying a big tax."

"Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand. That was long before Tariffs were announced," Trump tweeted. "Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it."

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"We are getting other countries to reduce and eliminate tariffs and trade barriers that have been unfairly used for years against our farmers, workers and companies. We are opening up closed markets and expanding our footprint. They must play fair or they will pay tariffs!"

"When I had Harley-Davidson officials over to the White House, I chided them about tariffs in other countries, like India, being too high. Companies are now coming back to America. Harley must know that they won’t be able to sell back into U.S. without paying a big tax!"

The Wisconsin-based motorcycle giant announced on Monday that it would shift production of some of its bikes overseas in order to dodge stiff tariffs imposed by the EU in response to Trump's duties on steel and aluminum imports.

Tariffs on the motorcycles were among several trade measures threatened by the EU after the Trump administration announced the steel and aluminum tariffs last month. Those duties have become a sore spot in relations between the U.S. and some of its closest allies, including Canada, France and Germany.

Harley-Davidson has shifted some of its production to India and Thailand in the face of high tariffs in those countries. 

In January, the company announced that it would move operations from its Kansas City plant to its plant in York, Pa.  

Trump in a later tweet pointed to a study of tariffs on cars from EU countries, saying "it will all even out."

He later warned that if Harley-Davidson shifts production abroad, it will be the "beginning of the end" for the motorcycle giant, insisting that its bikes should "never be built in another country."

Trump last Friday threatened to place a 20 percent tariff on all European cars entering the United States.

Updated at 8:34 a.m.