Columbia, SC (WLTX) — Two more South Carolina companies are urging the nation's top trade representative to exempt certain items facing higher tariffs incoming from China.
The tariffs are part of President Donald Trump’s trade policy.
In October, the company China Jushi USA filed an exemption request for equipment it needs to finish a Columbia-based factory expected to begin operation in January of 2019.
In the letter, sent to the U.S. Trade Representative, the company says the tariffs would increase costs and potential future expansion leading to at least 400 lost jobs.
“This would result in the loss of an additional 400 jobs (as each line requires approximately 400 employees) that are contingent on the completion of the second production line, as well as the loss of jobs to build the facility,” the letter stated.
The tariffs would impact $11 million of new equipment Jushi is importing for the first assembly line as a part of phase one.
One of the company's attorneys, Kenneth Nunnenkamp, said there case is unique.
“They are importing specific items to help them finalize the construction of their new fiberglass production plant, so it's not going to be a continuous series of imports,” Nunnenkamp said over the phone on Thursday.
The facility is more than 3 million square feet and the company said they invested $500 million in South Carolina.
In November, state Commerce Secretary Robert Hitt supported the case, which is still waiting a decision.
“There is no statutory deadline and you find out when they notify you. When they make a decision they notify the contact person,” Nunnenkamp added.
Another company, Archroma, asked to exempt chemicals they need to brighten paper.
The company says the tariffs would make prices too high, allowing international competition to take over, and cost the company more than a 100 jobs at their Martin factory.
Head of Operations Russ Gibson sent WLTX a statement on Thursday evening, it reads:
Archroma is a U.S. based chemical company with a manufacturing plant in Martin, SC that produces specialty chemicals, dyes, and optical brightening agents (“OBA”). OBA are additives that make paper and textiles whiter and brighter. Today, there are three domestic OBA manufacturers, all located in South Carolina, which supply the only source of domestic OBA to the broader U.S. paper industry. For Archroma, OBA is the foundation of the Martin plant operation, accounting for 60% of the total production and covering 40% of the cost to operate the plant.
DAST, a critical chemical used to make OBA, is included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Modification of Action Pursuant to Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation and is currently subject to import tariffs.
Archroma cannot sustain its manufacturing of OBA in Martin, SC if DAST, which is not domestically available, continues to be subject to these tariffs. Tariffs on DAST will essentially hand domestic OBA manufacturing business to foreign manufacturers and threaten hundreds of jobs.
Archroma urges the USTR to ensure that domestic OBA producers are not adversely impacted by the imposed actions and to remove DAST from the list of tariffs.
Earlier this year, Element Electronic successfully received a waiver to continue importing tv components without tariffs, claiming it saved more than a hundred jobs at their South Carolina factory.
As of Thursday night, Governor Henry McMaster’s office had not returned a request for comment on the two companies’ requests.
WLTX was told Commerce Secretary Hitt was not available for comment.