By Kevin Kelleher
August 7, 2018

The tariffs imposed by President Trump have claimed more jobs, this time at a consumer-electronics manufacturing plant in South Carolina.

Element Electronics blamed tariffs on Chinese imports for its decision to shut down its manufacturing facilities in Winnsboro, SC, a town located about 30 miles north of the state’s capital. The plant, which makes Element TVs, will maintain a skeleton crew of eight workers, as it hopes the shutdown will be temporary.

The news is especially hard for Winnsboro and its surrounding communities because of recent job losses in the area, including the shuttering of a Walmart store, the closing of a textile mill, and the cancellation of plans to construct two nuclear reactors.

Element notified the state’s Department of Employment about its plans, according to Columbia-based The State newspaper, which first reported on the plant’s closing. In its notification, Element stated, “The 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.”

In June, America’s largest nail manufacturer, Mid-Continent Nail, became the first company to lay off workers and cite tariffs as the reason. The company made nails with steel imported from Mexico. In early July, Washington-based REC Silicon, which makes polysilicon used in solar panels, laid off 100 employees as “a direct result of the ongoing solar-trade dispute between China and the US.”

Other companies and industry groups have warned that higher tariffs will lead to more job losses. The Solar Energy Industries Association estimated that another 23,000 jobs in the solar industry could be lost. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has argued that Trump’s trade actions could lead to 2.6 million American job losses in total.

Volvo is considering slashing jobs at its own manufacturing facility in Ridgeville, SC, after having just opened the plant in June. General Motors and BMW sent letters to the Commerce Department stating their concerns about higher job prices and lower production.

Harley-Davidson has also said it would move production of its Europe-bound vehicles offshore in response to a 31% tariff that the European Union imposed, which was itself retaliation against Trump’s tariffs on European steel.

Despite the closing of Element’s plant in South Carolina, Trump is pushing ahead with the imposition of new tariffs. The AP reported Tuesday that the Trump administration will go ahead with tariffs on $16 billion in Chinese imports beginning on August 23.

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