An analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that tariffs imposed on China, the European Union, Mexico and Canada would threaten $3 billion in S.C. exports, including passenger vehicles, steel products and iron products.
South Carolina is among the hardest hit states, according to the analysis, though Washington stands to lose the most, with $6.2 billion of state exports threatened; $3.7 billion of that is soybean exports to China.
“Tariffs are beginning to take a toll on American businesses, workers, farmers and consumers as overseas markets close to American-made products and prices increase here at home,” chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said in a news release. “Tariffs are simply taxes that raise prices for everyone. Tariffs that beget tariffs that beget more tariffs only lead to a trade war that will cost American jobs and economic growth.”
In 2017, $32.2 billion in goods were exported from South Carolina, according to the International Trade Administration (.pdf). Of that total, 42.6% came from the Greenville area, 29.8% came from the Charleston area and 6.3% came from Columbia. The top five countries receiving S.C. exports, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, are China, Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Last week, BMW Group, one of the state’s largest manufacturers, sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warning that tariffs could lead the company to reduce investment and cut jobs in the United States.
BMW has invested $8.9 billion in the county since 1992, when it located its first production facility outside of Germany in Greer. The company has 10,000 jobs on site, as well as 40 suppliers in South Carolina and 235 suppliers across the United States. The company produces 1,400 vehicles per day; 70% are exported outside of the country.
According to the chamber’s analysis, tariffs on China could threaten $2.35 billion in passenger vehicle exports and $109 million in gearbox exports.
“The administration is threatening to undermine the economic progress it worked so hard to achieve,” Donohue said. “We should seek free and fair trade, but this is just not the way to do it.”
Tariffs could also have an effect in Newberry County, where washing machine production has begun at Samsung's first U.S. home appliance manufacturing facility. The $380 million plant opened in January, days before President Donald Trump levied tariffs on imported washers and some parts.
Samsung called the tariff announcement “a great loss for American consumers and workers" and "a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine.”