‘It’s A Sad Moment’: A South Carolina Town Hits ‘Rock Bottom’ As Trump’s Tariffs Force Plant Closure

On Tuesday, the U.S. announced that August 23 is the date from which tariffs on an additional $16 billion in Chinese imports will go into effect.

The announcement was expected, but had become something of an afterthought. The duties that will go into effect later this month are the second tranche of the first round of 301-related tariffs. Levies on $34 billion in goods went into effect on July 6.

In the sarcastic “U.S. Finally Remembers To Get $16 Billion Trade Escalation Done So Trump Can Get To $200 Billion Escalation“, we took you through how this has progressed and detailed the extent to which Tuesday’s announcement basically amounted to a formality – a precondition that allows Trump to focus on the next round, in which $200 billion in additional Chinese goods will be targeted.

On Wednesday morning, China retaliated, as expected. The ministry of finance announced that Beijing’s retaliatory 25% tariffs on a reciprocal $16 billion of U.S. goods will take effect at 12:01am on August 23. In a perfunctory nod to incredulity, China called the latest U.S. escalation “very unreasonable” before reminding the world that Beijing’s response is designed to “protect its rightful interests and the multilateral trading system” (they’re doing it for you!). 

This is a good time to remind you that Trump’s weekend balderdash (do yourself a favor and read our account of that here when you get a second) about how tariffs are “working far better than anyone ever anticipated” aside, this ongoing plunge into protectionism is having real consequences for real people.

On Monday, local paper The State reported that TV-maker Element Electronics is shuttering its plant in Winnsboro, South Carolina in response to Trump’s tariffs. The company’s website features the following description of the business:

We’re building pride. An economic comeback. A healthier environment. And a stronger country.

With televisions that match up against the best. Built by American workers who can go toe-to-toe with any in the world. When you watch an Element TV, you’re doing more than changing channels. You’re helping change history. That’s the American way. That’s the Element way.

Well not anymore. Thanks to Trump’s “way”, Element won’t be “building pride” or anything else for that matter in Winnsboro for the foreseeable future.

“Beleaguered Fairfield County is losing another 126 jobs after TV-maker Element Electronics said Monday it will close its Winnsboro plant in response to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump”, The State writes, adding that “Element was one of Fairfield’s largest remaining employers, two years after its largest grocery store, Walmart, shuttered its doors.”

“When you think you’ve reached rock bottom, to get kicked in the gut like this, you didn’t think anything more could happen,” a dejected Mike Fanning (he’s a state Senator) lamented this week.

Here’s what Element said in a letter to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce:

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.

I guess it’s time for Larry Kudlow to explain that Element is lying to cover up “execution” problems and for Peter Navarro to accuse Element of being a Chinese puppet.

Here’s a little more color from The Greenville News:

A television maker in Winnsboro that uses Chinese components for its assembly operation has announced that increased costs related to tariffs are forcing it to shut down.

Element Electronics’ plant just north of Columbia is the first in South Carolina to close as a direct result of the emerging global trade war, according to a governor’s office spokesman.

Gov. Henry McMaster called the plant’s closure “a sad moment” as it is the only TV manufacturer in the United States. But he also offered cautious support of President Donald Trump’s tariffs strategy, saying that trade around the world needs to be free, open and fair.

“I am hoping that when all the work is done and all the facts are known, that the businesses and industries in South Carolina will not be hurt but instead will prosper,” he said.

As a reminder, South Carolina is on the front lines of the trade war. In “Dear South Carolina BMW Workers: Soon It Will Be Time To Do Your Patriotic Duty By Losing Your Job“, we detailed how Trump’s proposed auto tariffs are putting jobs at risk at a Spartanburg BMW plant.

Want to see something sad? Of course you don’t do. Just to drive the point home about how the President and his trade advisors are spinning a demonstrably false narrative about the tariffs, we’ll leave you with a video produced by Element Electronics in better times.

Speak your mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

NEWSROOM crewneck & prints