Trump blasts Harley-Davidson move decision

Donald Trump has accused Harley-Davidson of using the trade war as an excuse to move production

US President Donald Trump has accused motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson of using the trade war as an excuse to move production for European customers overseas.

"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. Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse," Trump said on Twitter.

However, the company said it decided to build the Thailand plant after Trump pulled out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have lowered import tariffs on its bikes in some of the fastest-growing motorcycle markets in Asia.

Trump had held up Harley as an example of a manufacturer that would benefit from his policies. But the proposed production shift appeared to mark an unintended consequence of US tariffs imposed on European steel and aluminum earlier this month.

In a regulatory filing on Monday, the Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company said the retaliatory duties would result in an incremental cost of about $US2,200 ($A2,967) per average motorcycle exported from the United States to the European Union, but did not provide more details on current motorcycle costs.

In late April, Harley said Trump's metal tariffs would inflate its costs by $US15 million ($A20 million) to $US20 million ($A27 million) this year on top of already rising raw material prices that it expected at the start of the year.