Snap-on CEO: If Trump went after us like Harley-Davidson for overseas factories we'd defend ourselves

  • Snap-on CEO Nicholas Pinchuk addresses President Trump’s attacks on Harley-Davidson for plans to shift some operations overseas.
  • Snap-on tools and equipment sold in the U.S. are made in America, but it would be “just inefficient” to manufacture only in the U.S., he says.
  • Harley, which like Snap-on is located in Wisconsin, said Monday that new EU tariffs would increase the average cost per motorcycle by about $2,200.

Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nicholas Pinchuk on Thursday addressed President Donald Trump’s attacks on Harley-Davidson for its plans to shift some operations overseas after retaliatory European Union tariffs against U.S. imports.

"If he did that to us, we wouldn't like it. But we'd defend ourselves in the situation," Pinchuk told CNBC's “Squawk Box,” explaining Snap-on tools and equipment sold in the U.S. are made in America.

However, he said it would be “just inefficient” to manufacture only in the U.S. "It's hard to lob 70,000 SKUs, [or] different products, 10,000 miles and 12 time zones.” Snap-on, with factories in Europe, South America and China, makes its products "in the markets in which we sell," he added.

Trump has been harshly criticizing Harley this week, using Twitter to blast the iconic American motorcycle brand, whose executives appeared with the president in February 2017 at a White House event to highlight U.S. manufacturers.

Harley said Monday that the new EU tariffs implemented last Friday would increase the average cost per motorcycle by about $2,200.

The company said no production will be moving to Europe, pointing to its overseas manufacturing plants in Brazil, India, Australia and Thailand. In the U.S., Harley is shutting down a Kansas City, Missouri, factory and transferring operations to York, Pennsylvania.

Both Snap-on and Harley-Davidson are headquartered in Wisconsin where Trump was Thursday for the ceremonial groundbreaking of a massive $10 billion Foxconn assembly complex.

Taiwan-based Foxconn is the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer. It puts together Apple iPhones and other products for technology companies.

Foxconn chose Wisconsin for its new factory after being prodded by Trump and others, including outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose congressional district in Wisconsin will host the plant.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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