South Carolina business leaders eye potential impact of automobile tariffs

Stephen Gilchrist chairs the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce.   Contributed photo

With the possibility of President Donald Trump imposing a 25 percent tariff on all vehicles imported from countries other than Mexico and Canada, automobile manufacturers are concerned about how that could affect their U.S. operations.

South Carolina is not immune to the effects of the tariffs, as manufacturers such as BMW have operations in the Palmetto State. A tarriff could affect jobs if the company pulls out of the state.

“We have BMW here in South Carolina, and they’re certainly watching this, and they have expressed some concern about what the tariffs could potentially do to jobs and those kind of things," Stephen Gilchrist, chairman at the South Carolina African-American Chamber of Commerce, told the Palmetto Business Daily. “We don’t want that, and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can.”

South Carolina is a competitive state that has been making a significant effort to recruit and secure jobs for its residents. Gov. Henry McMaster has been influential in recruiting business to the state and continues to make great strides in providing jobs to South Carolinians, according to Gilchrist.

“Our effort to recruit in the state is so that we can ensure that people have employment,” Gilchrist said. “We don’t want to reverse that trend, and we certainly hope as we continue to be aggressive with our recruitment efforts here in South Carolina that they translate into job opportunities for our people.”

While South Carolina is rightfully concerned how the tariffs will impact businesses in the state, the effects are not being felt as of yet, according to Gilchrist.

“South Carolina has not seen the impact to the degree that we’ve seen across the country with some of the proposed tariffs,” he said. “Obviously, any time there is a conversation about tariffs that raises some concern among our manufacturing base. We’ve been blessed in South Carolina right now to maintain our excellent footprint in the type of manufacturing that we’ve been able to recoup, particularly on the automotive side.”

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