Relative to earlier measures, the response has been somewhat muted, but companies with Georgia operations are outlining potential effects of President Trump’s latest round of proposed 25 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods.
Public comments and requests to testify at a June 17 public hearing are due by the end of Monday. Georgia had been mentioned in five out of the more than 300 requests as of Monday afternoon, with effects on agricultural and manufacturing inputs looming largest.
North Carolina pesticide company AgLogic Chemical LLC said the potential levy would come straight out of its bottom line. The company says it would threaten “numerous jobs” at a Georgia plant formulating the Aldicarb pesticide it distributes to growers of peanuts, cotton and other crops around the Southeast.
Since the last factory producing the compound in the U.S. shut down in 2010, the company was able bring back the product under a new brand name only a few years ago after securing sourcing from China.
Ironically, the tariffs would hurt American growers when they’re selling their end products abroad, including to China, Managing Member Antoine Puech wrote in his petition.
“Many of these crops are exported back to China from the U.S. The tariffs, if imposed, will significantly disadvantage growers by increasing their costs of production. This increase in costs translates into increased costs to consumers and a reduction in competitiveness when these agricultural commodities are sold internationally.”
Meanwhile, German-owned Sandler Nonwoven Corp. in Perry, Ga., says that the duty will cause it undue harm and requested that President Tobias Baumgaertel be granted the right to testify at June 17 hearings. China produces about two-thirds percent of the world’s viscose rayon staple fibers, the raw material used in the production of hygienic products at the Perry factory.
A similar request to testify has been filed by Tucker, Ga.-based Foison Packaging Inc., which imports and sells bulk plastic bags used in agriculture and construction. The company has a partnership with a vertically integrated manufacturer in China’s Shandong province. YongFeng Plastics Co. Ltd. is based in Laizhou, which is near Georgia’s China office in the city of Qingdao.
Foison is asking the U.S. Trade Representative’s office for five minutes of testimony where a local vice president can talk about how higher costs for bags would harm farmers of soybeans, a crop that has already been hit hard by retaliation from China.
The bags have special antibacterial certifications (held at the Chinese manufacturer) and are also used to transport peanuts, rice, and cotton. Foison says it would take more than a year for a comparable supplier to get the same certifications, adding:
“Moreover, (company COO and VP Patrina Neckles) will express the Company’s position that additional tariffs will have no deterrent effect on China’s acts, policies and practices addressed through the current investigation, while having the unintended consequence of directly harming U.S. interests, specifically those of small and mid-sized businesses including Midwest farmers.”
Requests for comment from the affected companies were not answered by the time of publication.
Not all petitioners see themselves as being negatively affected. Rheem Manufacturing Co., the air conditioner company with a headquarters in Atlanta and factories around the South and elsewhere in the U.S., is asking that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to keep certain air conditioner parts on the tariff list.
The company argued that there are ample ways to source the parts domestically or from other foreign suppliers, meaning the tariffs would have the practical effect of countering China’s “unfair trade practices.” Rheem also hopes the president of its air conditioning division, Mike Branson, will be able to provide comments at the hearings.