Steel tariffs could heavily impact Upstate companies

Steel tariffs could heavily impact Upstate companies

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) - - President Trump announced last week that he would be imposing tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.  

The tariffs, which would be 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum, would have a big impact on Upstate companies like BMW and its suppliers who use the material to build cars, GE which uses the parts for turbines, and craft breweries that use aluminum in their cans. 

However, it's also hurting local companies such as New South Construction Supply that provides steel for rebar, reinforcing steel that goes in concrete, for a lot of of the development projects in Greenville. 

The CEO, Jim Sobeck, says rebar is nearly half of the company's supply sales. 

"We were buying about 40 percent of our steel from foreign companies," Sobeck said. 

He says foreign steel was eight to 10 percent less expensive. 

"When you're in a commodity distribution business like we are, you can't afford to let your competition have an 8 to 10 percent price advantage over you," Sobeck said. 

Sobeck says the price of domestic steel has already gone up 19 percent in the past three months. 

"We're not going to absorb that," Sobeck said. "We're going to have to pass it on."

Sobeck says the tariffs may not have a huge financial impact on development in the Upstate. 

"Reinforcing steel is about three percent of the cost of the project," Sobeck said. 

He also says companies feared prices of products rising, so there was an influx of orders creating a shortage. 

"The current tightness of supply could delay some jobs, people who are ready to pour concrete and need the steel," Sobeck said. 

However, Sobeck says in the long run the foreign tariffs could mean steel plants that were closed begin to reopen creating more jobs across the country. 

"If we've got to go through some short term pain to get long term gain, I'm more than willing to do my part," Sobeck said. 

The tariffs will take effect in 10 days. 

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