- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- President Donald Trump’s recent tariffs on Chinese goods led to layoffs at a TV manufacturing plant in South Carolina.
- Element Electronics said the increased cost of parts used in their TVs forced them to lay off 126 workers at their Winnsboro, South Carolina, plant.
- Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former South Carolina congressman, is advocating for Element to receive an exemption from the tariffs.
- Any company can apply for an exemption if the firm can prove that there is no American source for the parts needed to produce their product.
Even members of President Donald Trump’s own administration are trying to find workarounds to avoid the worst parts of the burgeoning trade war with China.
According to a report from McClatchy, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney is pushing for an exemption to the tariffs on Chinese goods for a TV manufacturer in his home state of South Carolina.
Element Electronics, a TV manufacturer with a plant in Winnsboro, South Carolina, announced August 6 that the company would lay off 126 workers in its plant.
The company said the reason for the layoffs was Trump’s recent tariffs on Chinese products. Element said many of those goods now subject to tariffs are used as components in the TVs assembled in South Carolina.
“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,” Element said.
State Sen. Mike Fanning, who represents the district where Element is located, told McClatchy that Mulvaney is lobbying within the administration to get Element an exclusion to the China tariffs.
“I know that he is actively pleading on our behalf, because people we’ve talked to in DC, they say, ‘Yes, yes, yes, we’ve already heard this from Mick Mulvaney’,” Fanning said.
Rep. Ralph Norman, who took over Mulvaney’s seat in Congress after his appointment to the Trump administration, also told McClatchy that Mulvaney was “trying to get exclusions well ahead of the announcement.”
Any US firm can appeal to the US Trade Representative’s office for an exclusion if the company can show there is undue burden in finding an alternative source for their parts. Thousands of companies have requested exemptions from Trump’s various tariffs over the past few months.
Economists have warned that the tariffs’ focus on intermediate parts would eventually hurt the US manufacturers that use those parts in their final products. The increased cost from the tariffs would force companies to cut costs in other areas, like labor, or move production in order to avoid the tariffs.
Element also has a second Trump administration connection. The company actually enticed to South Carolina by then-Gov. Nikki Haley, who now serves at UN Ambassador for the Trump administration.