10-9-2019 Trade war felt in Caldwell

Posted on: October 9th, 2019 by admin


October 9, 2019



By Guy Lucas


Oct 08, 2019 11:37 AM

The trade war is hitting some Caldwell County companies, an economic development official said Tuesday.


Tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump have increased the cost of importing some materials that local manufacturers use, and retaliatory tariffs also have hurt exports, executive director Deborah Murray of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission told the EDC’s board of directors.


In recent years “a number of our companies have moved into a strong export position,” she said.


She did not identify any specific companies that have been affected.


Currently an extra tax of 25 percent is assessed on an estimated $200 billion worth of goods from China. The tax is paid by the U.S. companies importing the items, not by the Chinese producers.


Caldwell County is part of a Charlotte-based “free trade zone” that allows participating manufacturers to avoid some duties on imports, but the zone has no affect on these tariffs, she said.


Manufacturers have tried to find sources outside of China for materials hit with tariffs, and where that isn’t possible they have joined others in their industries to seek relief from tariffs on specific materials.


The EDC has been asked by a few companies to help make the case for relief, she said.


“For the most part, they (manufacturers) are sucking it up,” she said.


On the export side, “the lumber industry has been hit as hard as anyone” by tariffs on U.S. goods imposed by China in retaliation for the U.S. tariffs, she said.


According to the Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers Inc., an industry advocacy group, exports of lumber to China accounted for about 26% of grade lumber produced in the U.S. in 2018, exceeding the amount exported to the entire rest of the world. A little more than half of the lumber produced remained in the U.S. for domestic use.


Murray said she raised the issue to make the board members aware of the situation because she has fielded some questions about the local effects of the tariffs.


“I think it’s going to be around a while,” she said.

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