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Trump tariff on imported steel hurting NH manufacturers, including Amherst machine company

By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent

August 15. 2018 10:00AM
Steve Carter, CEO of Williams & Hussey Machine Co., Inc., and Congresswoman Annie Kuster tour the company's Amherst facility on Tuesday. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)



Tony Forrence, a knife maker at Williams & Hussey Machine Co., Inc., of Amherst, works on a machine Tuesday on the manufacturing floor. (Kimberly Houghton)

AMHERST — The owner of Williams & Hussey Machine Co. in Amherst says he has seen a significant hike in steel costs since the new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration.

“This is the big question — how do I absorb those extra costs? Do I pass it on to customers, and will costumers come back here for business or go elsewhere?” asked Stephen Carter, owner and CEO of Williams & Hussey Machine Co. Inc.

Steel costs were already on the rise before the tariffs, but now the steel he needs to build motors has increased in cost by more than 25 percent, he said.

There are now huge discrepancies throughout the supply chain, and small businesses are feeling the pain, according to Carter.

“I am not in the favor of the way we are doing it now ... all this is really doing is hurting businesses,” he said. “I am sure there are companies that are on the verge of going out of business because they can’t afford to get a part for their product.”

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump implemented a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum, and in July he imposed more tariffs on Chinese products.

In return, China retaliated and placed tariffs on about $34 billion in U.S. exports to China.

Carter said he was just notified by his motor manufacturer, Baldor, that because of the tariffs, the price of motors has increased up to 36 percent.

Furthermore, Carter said an additional price increase was implemented after the tariff hike.

“There is an imbalance, and I don’t like the approach right now,” said Carter, who described the deteriorating trade situation as bullying. He stressed that not only do small businesses need security, but steel manufacturers also need protection.

“You need to work it out, but this aggressive approach is not working,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster, who toured Williams & Hussey Machine Co. on Tuesday and spoke with Carter about the tariffs.

Retaliatory efforts will result in hefty price increases, according to Kuster, who said her major concern is that jobs could be lost in the United States.

“We have got to push back on this,” she said.

As a small company with just six employees, Carter says he understands the financial pressures facing small businesses in New Hampshire and beyond.

With steel costing about 50 percent more than it did last year at this time, he questioned whether companies are equipped to handle this type of cost increase.

“It is going to really hurt. It is a squeeze,” Kuster said.

Earlier this year, President Trump’s Trade Policy Agenda was presented to Congress.

In the agenda, Trump states that countries that are committed to market-based outcomes and that are willing to provide the United States with reciprocal opportunities in their home markets will find a true friend and ally in the Trump administration.

“Countries that refuse to give us reciprocal treatment or who engage in other unfair trading practices will find that we know how to defend our interests,” the agenda says.

The agenda is intended to build on the economic momentum provided by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and the administration's efforts to reduce regulatory burdens, according to a previous release, adding it is also designed to promote fair, balanced trade while supporting American prosperity.

NashuaNews@unionleader.com


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