UPDATE: A petition has been created on the White House website, and if it gets 100,000 signatures within 30 days (February 22, 2017), it will earn an official response by the government. You can sign the petition here.
What do motorcycles and beef have to do with each other? That’s what the American Motorcyclist Association would like to know, as it speaks out against a proposed 100 percent tariff on European-made motorcycles with a engine size between 51cc and 500cc. The tariff is part of a trade dispute over, of all things, the use of hormones in U.S. beef.
The crazy part is, this isn’t the first time this has happened. The same government agency, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), tried the same tactic in 2008, but withdrew the plan due to public outcry. Instead, they raised the tariff on a variety of European food products.
The whole issue stems from the fact that the EU bans the import of beef or beef products that have been treated with any of six different growth-promotion hormones: estradiol 17-b (a steroid, an estrogen and the primary female sex hormone), testosterone, progesterone (another steroid hormone), zeranol (a synthetic estrogen), trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate (both are anabolic steroids). This creates a problem for the U.S. beef industry, which relies heavily on growth hormones to produce lots of inexpensive meat, which in turn satisfies American consumers’ appetite for Big Macs.
In order to offset the monetary losses being suffered by U.S. producers, the USTR has proposed a list of new products on which a 100-percent tariff could be imposed. It’s a long list of mostly food products…until you scroll all the way to the bottom, where hair clippers (both for livestock and human use) and—you guessed it—motorcycles can be found.
The AMA sent out a press release condemning the proposed tariff, “Because trade disputes residing within the boundaries of the agricultural industry should not be solved with trade sanctions levied against non-agricultural products.”
“There is no logical link between motorcycles and beef,” said Wayne Allard, AMA Vice President of Government Relations. “It is absurd to even consider such a move.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is responsible for developing and coordinating U.S. international trade, commodity and direct investment policy and overseeing negotiations with other countries. The head of USTR is the U.S. Trade Representative, a Cabinet member who serves as the president’s principal trade adviser, negotiator, and spokesperson on trade issues.
The press release contends that “if the agency enacts this motorcycle 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.”
“Should the availability of motorcycles be hindered by these unjustified trade sanctions, dealerships may close, leaving countless Americans without jobs,” Allard said. “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.”
Affected manufacturers include Aprilia, Beta, BMW, Ducati, Fantic, Gas Gas, Husqvarna, KTM, Montesa, Piaggio, Scorpa, Sherco, TM and Vespa.