The Trump administration earned international criticism earlier this year, thanks to the imposition of steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The president has stood firm, tweeting as recently as Sunday about how great the tariffs supposedly are — but South Carolina manufacturing workers would disagree.
In the face of the now increased cost of doing business in steel and aluminum — among other products — with China, Element Electronics is shutting down operations at its plant in Fairfield County, South Carolina.
The company specifically blamed the Trump administration’s tariffs in a letter to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, writing:
‘[T]he layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro.’
They hope to be able to re-open in three to six months, and in the meantime they will be maintaining a staff of eight individuals. However, the company asserted that they “cannot predict this with any certainty at this time.”
The closure will leave 126 people jobless in an area that has already seen a number of its major employers leave. Element, ahead of the layoffs, ended up one of the largest employers in the county after the area’s last textile mill and even its Walmart closed.
Democratic state Sen. Mike Fanning commented of the developments:
‘When you think you’ve reached rock bottom, to get kicked in the gut like this, you didn’t think anything more could happen. Within 365 days, you just get rocked to your core.’
In addition to the aforementioned closures, Fairfield County just recently faced the abandonment of lengthy plans for two nuclear reactors in Jenkinsville. That left 5,000 construction workers job-less and erased the opportunity of any future jobs in the area stemming from the nuclear reactors.
The Element plant closure is hardly the only consequence of the Trump administration’s tariffs. Other American companies dealing in steel, aluminum, and related products with other countries have had their operations threatened too. BMW, for instance, recently notified Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that as many as 45,000 jobs in South Carolina alone could be in jeopardy because of the trade wars.
Whether Ross will actually pay attention to the company’s concern is uncertain. He was just recently on Fox defending the Trump administration’s tariffs as “carefully thought through” — and he’s now facing allegations of having swindled associates out of some $120 million.
Meanwhile, American agricultural interests continue to feel the weight of the tariffs and retaliatory tariffs too. China recently cancelled all of their standing orders for specialty food grade soybeans from North Dakota, dealing farmers a loss of over $1 million.
The president, though, insists that everything is getting along just fine.
As recently as Sunday, he wrote on Twitter:
‘Tariffs are working big time. Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the U.S., always to our detriment. I say, as they come,Tax them. If they don’t want to be taxed, let them make or build the product in the U.S. In either event, it means jobs and great wealth.’
As the new developments in South Carolina make clear, no, tariffs don’t mean “jobs and great wealth.”
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot