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Trump applauds riders who boycott Harley Davidson on overseas production shift, says move abroad is 'really bad'

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump renewed his critique of Harley Davidson, applauding a boycott of the company as it shifts some production overseas.
  • "A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better," the president said on Twitter.
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President Trump backs Harley-Davidson boycott

President Donald Trump renewed his war of words with iconic U.S. motorcycle maker Harley Davidson on Sunday, denouncing the company's plan to shift some production abroad and appearing to back consumers that have called for a boycott.

In a series of early morning posts on Twitter, the president said that people looking to stop buying Harleys was a "great" development, adding that other companies were moving to produce in America.

Harley is increasingly investing in production facilities overseas to avoid tariffs. The 115-year old motorcycle manufacturer has been caught in a public relations firestorm since June, when it announced plans in June to move its European market production out of the U.S. because of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union.

Harley's international plans include making inroads in India and China, as its U.S. sales have tailed off amid a lack of millennial buyers. Total global sales from motorcycle exports totaled $24.1 billion in 2017, according to data from World Top's Exports, with Asian countries accounting for the largest share of exported bikes. European exporters came in second, those figures showed.

Members of the Bikers for Trump motorcycle group attend a rally for Donald Trump on the first day of the Republican National Convention (RNC) on July 18, 2016 in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. 
Spencer Platt | Getty Images

In an interview with CNBC last month, CEO Matt Levatich called Trump's statements "unfortunate attention" in light of difficult business decisions the company has been forced to make, and were unrelated to politics.

"We just deal with what we have to deal with; we are not a political organization. We've worked very hard to be apolitical in how we approach our business and our consumers, everywhere in the world," he said.

Year to date, Harley Davidson's stock, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, is down about 9 percent.

--CNBC's Amelia Lucas contributed to this report.

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How big Harley-Davidson is
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Key Points
  • President Donald Trump criticizes Harley-Davidson on social media, saying his administration is talking to other motorcycle companies.
  • “Now that Harley-Davidson is moving part of its operation out of the U.S., my Administration is working with other Motor Cycle companies who want to move into the U.S. Harley customers are not happy with their move - sales are down 7% in 2017. The U.S. is where the Action is!,” Trump says in a tweet.