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Harley-Davidson Sales Hardly Hit by Indian Duties’

March 15, 2019 07:30 AM


Harley-Davidson Sales Hardly Hit by Indian Duties’

New Delhi:

US President Donald Trump may be on the verge of waging a trade war with India over high import duties on US goods like Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but a top executive of the bike maker said the taxation structure in India has negligible impact on sales in the country.

Sajeev Rajasekharan, Harley-Davidson’s managing director for India, told ET that 13 of the 17 motorcycles in its lineup are assembled locally and, therefore, import duties have nominal impact on the company’s operations in the country. He said the company has had no dialogue with the Indian government to reduce taxes and, as in all other countries, will stick to the “rule of the land” to do business.

Terming India “a very high-tariff nation”, US President Donald Trump recently said he will end preferential treatment for a host of Indian goods that now enter the country “duty-free”. India will no longer receive benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which was set up to promote trade from developing countries.

The action comes after months of simmering trade tensions between the two countries. Trump had particularly cited the instance of Harley-Davidson at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) earlier this month saying, “When we send a motorcycle to India, they charge 100% tariff. When India sends a motorcycle to us, we charge nothing.”

Rajasekharan said, “As a company, our position on the trade and tariffs has never changed. We work with all the governments across the world in terms of having a free and fair trade practice because it helps Harley-Davidson, our customers, our dealers and all our stakeholders…we follow the rule of the land, wherever it is.”

Harley-Davidson sells 17 motorcycles in the country priced between ₹5.3 lakh and ₹49.9 lakh. The company assembles over a dozen of these models at its facility in Bawal, Haryana.

“Out of the 17 bikes that we have in our lineup, 13 of them are either manufactured or assembled in India. There are four which come (in) so the volumes are very less. That is a niche segment also… The impact of the CBUs (completely built-up units) is minimal because it is only the 1600 cc+ which comes in,” he said on the sidelines of the launch of Forty-Eight Special and Street Glide Special models, which are priced at ₹10.9 lakh and ₹30.5 lakh, respectively.

The company sold 2,471units in the local market in the first 11 months of the ongoing financial year — a decline of 16.5% compared with the corresponding period of the previous year. It expects sales to pick up in 2019. The company also plans to increase the number of dealer outlets to 33 and lifestyle stores to 10 in the course of the calendar year

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