The start of construction for a 10$ billion Foxconn factory complex in Wisconsin was planned to be used by the Trump administration as proof of the beginning of the “America First” policy, which has been promoted and teased by the president himself since his 2016 campaign. However, this was contrasted with an announcement by Harley-Davidson stating that they were moving some of their production overseas in order to avoid the upcoming tariffs. The two events have caused for the state to have mixed feelings over Trump’s policies and how actually efficient they have proven themselves to be.
Trump addressed both of those situations during the Foxconn groundbreaking ceremony. He praised the former’s decision to use such a substantial budget to boost the American economy and create jobs in Wisconsin, and called the upcoming factory “the eighth wonder of the world”. He also told the huge crowd of attendants that this is representative of other similar actions that are taking place all across the country.
However, his rhetoric completely changed when addressing Harley-Davidson’s decision. He addressed the topic briefly, but in a threat-like manner, as he stated: ”Please build those beautiful motorcycles here in the USA again. Don’t get cute with us. Your customers won’t be happy if you don’t.” The tension was also fueled by the fact that H-D’s factory is located just 25 miles north to where the event was being held, making everyone aware that Foxconn’s situation was not necessarily shared by other companies.
Harley Davidson is one of the first American companies to gain controversy after responding to possible European Union tariffs. The tariffs have been retaliatory to the U.S.’ ongoing trade wars with its G7 former allies and China, between which France and Germany are included. The conflict is turning out to be a tariff-to-tariff set of countermeasures, as the U.S. responded to China’s project of retaliatory tariffs by expanding the list of Chinese products affected by the measures.
On Monday, the company issued a statement saying that an additional 25% tariff on them applied by the E.U. would mean for them to increase each of their motorcycles’ price for $2,200. As many have been predicting over the past few weeks, the U.S.’ trade tariffs and intense measures, designed to combat what they deemed as “unfair” trade practices, are ultimately hurting American companies by forcing them to adapt to the situation. The impact may not only be observed directly at a national level but also at an international one, as domestic-made products have also become crucial to the world economy.
Some have been quick to fully support the Foxconn project, framing it as something that will benefit the region in any potential scenario and boost the company’s production rate by providing it with advanced manufacturing technology. It could employ up to 13,000 people, some from Wisconsin and others coming from the North and Illinois. The company has also received substantial amounts of incentive to achieve its production goals, being offered $3 billion from the state and $764 million locally. Including the budget for infrastructure could bring the project to a total of a 4$ billion budget.
The Wisconsin population is quite divided on how promising this project actually is. A 46% of local voters have stated that they think the state is over-funding the project and that the amount given does not match the plant’s worth, while 40% think it’s an accurate match between the two values. Although most voters believe that this will benefit businesses in the Milwaukee-area, only 29% think that will be the case for their local businesses. The poll was done by the Marquette University Law School.
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