Element TV Company said in a letter to state employment officials on Monday that it would be laying off 126 workers, most of them in October, leaving behind a skeleton crew of just eight employees.
In a letter to the Department of Employment and Workforce quoted by The State newspaper, Element said, “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.”
In July, the administration imposed a 25 per cent tariff on US$34bn worth of Chinese imports. Beijing has retaliated by imposing tariffs on American goods of equal value. The United States plans tariffs on an
additional US$16bn of Chinese goods, which is to take effect from August 23 according to a report by CNN.
Element tweeted that it was lobbying to have the TV components removed from the tariff list. It said it hoped that the plant could ‘re-open in three to six months, but we cannot predict this with any certainty at this time’.
The Element plant had opened to huge fanfare about five years ago. Trump’s current Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, was the South Carolina governor at the time.
In August 2014, she addressed a manufacturing summit on live video from the Element factory, where she spoke about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US.
“We want to make sure that government is the first group to help you, not hurt you,” Haley had said at the time, promising that 500 jobs would be created.
Trump’s tariffs have already made an impact in South Carolina with its huge manufacturing base. Swedish automaker Volvo has already said it would not be able to hire 4,000 employees for a new plant in South Carolina. And German automaker BMW recently wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross saying the tariffs could jeopardise 45,000 jobs, including 10,000 at its Spartanburg plant and 35,000 at its suppliers.