Freeway for Harleys? India floats tariff cut for iconic US motorcycle on heels of Trump visit & possible trade deal

FILE PHOTO: Employees of Harley Davidson and biking enthusiasts prepare to ride during a promotional event in Mumbai. / Free

India has offered to slash trade levies on Harley-Davidson motorcycles ahead of a state visit from US President Donald Trump later this month, who has hinted at signing a trade deal with his Indian counterpart during the trip.

While New Delhi previously slapped a 100 percent tariff on Harleys as part of an ongoing trade spat with Washington, they were cut by half last year. Trump, however, still deemed that “unacceptable,” insisting they come down further. With a major trade deal now hanging in the balance, India appears ready to fulfill that request – at least partially.

“The issue of Harley-Davidson is already resolved. We will reduce the duty on the bikes above 1,600 cc to a single digit,” an official familiar with the proposal told the Economic Times, though did not provide any further details about where the levies would ultimately land.

India classifies motorbikes by their engine capacity, measured in cubic centimeters (cc), currently broken into four categories – 75, 250, 500, and 800cc and above. With the new proposal, India will create a new category of 1,600cc and above, and will only lower tariffs for that class of bikes. That could still mean a significant drop in trade duties, with India importing some $20.6 million in bikes 800cc and above between April and December of last year, according to the Economic Times.

With President Trump slated to visit India on February 24 and stay overnight, officials in the city of Ahmedabad – located in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat – are making big preparations for the drop-in. Tens of thousands of people are expected to line a 22-kilometer stretch of road to greet the US president, in what the city’s mayor said could be the longest “roadshow” ever put on for a visiting head of state.

“As per our estimate, over 50,000 people, including BJP workers, would greet the leaders on the entire route,” the mayor said. “Volunteers from 300 organisations and NGOs would also take part in the roadshow.”

Trump and Modi will address an expected crowd of 100,000 people at a newly christened cricket stadium in Ahmedabad, which will become the world’s largest facility of its type once opened.

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