All eyes are on the steel industry, as the Trump administration’s plans to enact tariffs have set off a firestorm of controversy. While many industrial stakeholders have voiced support for these changes – with the Alliance for American Manufacturing calling for months for “swift and decisive action” on steel, there are also many who don’t favor the suggested 25 percent hit on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
One of those opponents has taken swift and decisive action of their own. Appliance manufacturer Electrolux, a global company headquartered in Sweden, announced Friday that a $250 million expansion they’d planned for a plant in Tennessee was being put on hold, and cited potential tariffs on metals as the reason.
In a statement to The Tennessean, Electrolux said the proposed tariffs would put foreign manufacturing of appliances at a distinct advantage. Later they told Reuters that the company, who buys all of its steel for U.S. manufacturing domestically, expected the increase in steel prices on the U.S. market to be “significant.” The company says it is merely taking a wait-and-see at this time, as the details continue to play out.
Interestingly enough, Electrolux is currently facing another public spat, after announcing that it would consolidate operations and move production from St. Cloud, MN to South Carolina. MN Rep. Keith Ellison says he believes the move is a result of organized labor being less prevalent in South Carolina, a right-to-work state. Ellison and his peers have made an appeal for the company to reconsider closing the St. Cloud plant, which is the city’s fifth largest employer.
Meanwhile, Monday, President Trump suggested he could provide tariff relief for Canada and Mexico – two of the biggest producers of U.S. purchased steel – if the two countries would accept U.S. demands for a renegotiated NAFTA.
Keep watching, as this should get even more interesting as the week goes on.