Steel, aluminum tariffs hitting local businesses

Local News

GRETNA, Va. – A business in Gretna is already feeling the effects of a tariff President Donald Trump has levied on steel and aluminum.

Amthor Industries Inc. has a large site in Pittsylvania County already; the tank truck manufacturing company employs 110 locals. Amthor Industries is the top manufacturer of tank trucks in North America.

The group was making plans to build another building in the city’s new industrial park. This site would employ 90 more people, and Amthor would be the first business to move into the Gretna Industrial Park.

But the tariff changed some of that. 

Amthor Executive Vice President Brian Amthor says building an entirely new manufacturing plant wasn’t cheap to start out, but with the new 25 percent increase on steel and ten percent on aluminum, the costs of a new build were too much for the company.

“Due to those unforeseen circumstances, we’ve decided to pull out of building a brand new factory,” he says. 

That doesn’t mean it’s the end for more jobs at Amthor.

“We are going to continue to operate out of our current facility, but what we’re going to do is add four additions to our current facility,” he adds. 

Amthor says this brings total costs down to a third of the cost of a new building, and the business will still have room to hire 90 more people.

But Amthor still isn’t sure how the tariffs will impact his business.

That impact is something that many are concerned about. The tariff is designed to push taxes on imports, encouraging businesses and bigger companies to buy locally made product – in this case, American made steel and aluminum.

Some local experts think the taxes could anger other countries, causing them to retaliate. Experts like Jason Grant, an associate professor at Virginia Tech University and the Director of the Center for Agricultural Trade, who says the countries could pass their own tariffs on the items America exports and they import.

“Soybeans, or poultry, or pork products, or anything that’s important to Virginia, it could really hurt domestic producers – hurt farmers,” he says. “It gets tricky because all of a sudden you’ve got countries threatening, they’ll tax automobiles, or they’ll tax farm products. It quickly becomes a race to the bottom which we do not need.”

Something else Grant is concerned about is this type of tariff has no time limit and the amount the tariff is set to can be changed at will by the administration. This means the president could change the numbers or extend the time of the tariff whenever he chooses.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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