Despite television manufacturer Element Electronics announcing Monday it will shut down its Fairfield County plant due to tariffs on Chinese parts it uses, Governor Henry McMaster is confident the state’s businesses will continue to prosper despite other countries’ responses to tariffs established by President Trump.
Element Electronics announced Monday it was closing its Winnsboro plant because the company could no longer afford the tariffs placed on component parts it imported from China to assemble in South Carolina.
McMaster said he does not support the tariffs, but he believed President Trump was doing what he thought best on trade.
“These tariffs are works in progress,” he said. “Some will be announced or proposed and they changed and then there are exceptions and I’m 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.”
Meanwhile, the governor’s Democratic opponent State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, criticized him for his continued support of Trump. “This is not a partisan issue,” he said, during an appearance in Winnsboro on Wednesday. “This about leadership we can count on. So you’ve got to be willing to fight for our future. It’s very clear this governor has chosen not to do that.”
McMaster said he’s been in contact with the White House regarding the tariffs, with the state Department of Commerce lobbying to get an exemption for specific plants in South Carolina that are being impacted. The governor personally appeared before the U.S. Department of Commerce last year to seek an exemption for Korean appliance maker Samsung’s Newberry plant.
“In my office we have been in constant touch with the administration on tariffs as well as a lot of other issues,” he said. “And we have not convinced them of our point of view on every point, nor have they convinced us of theirs.”
McMaster said the tariffs are necessary for the U.S. to compete in the world market.
“The tariff situation around the world is one that has needed addressing to have not only open and free trade but fair trade, and that’s something that’s been missing,” he said. “So I’m hoping that when everything is completed, in South Carolina, we will be and should be in very good shape.”