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Donald Trump Rebukes Henry McMaster On Trade

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So much for that “pull” South Carolina governor Henry McMaster has in Washington, D.C. …

The Palmetto State’s chief executive – who made numerous trips to the nation’s capital to lobby on behalf of South Korean conglomerate Samsung – was dealt a stunning rebuke when the administration of Donald Trump announced it was imposing steep tariffs on imported washing machines.

These imported machines “are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers,” according to the U.S. Trade Representative‘s office.

In light of that finding, Trump has decided to implement a 20 percent tariff on the first 1.2 million large residential washers imported into the United States over the coming year and a 50 percent tariff on any machines above that number.

The tariffs represent a major victory for Michigan-based Whirlpool – which has been battling Samsung over its allegedly unfair trade practices for years.

“By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts,” Whirlpool chairman Jeff Fettig said in a statement.

McMaster was heavily involved in this fight on the side of Samsung, which has announced plans to open an appliance manufacturing facility in Newberry, S.C. that would employ 1,000 people.  He testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and personally lobbied Trump’s  commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.  He also met with numerous “high-level staffers” at the White House, according to reporter Emma Dumain of McClatchy.

“It’s a good situation to be in,” McMaster told Dumain earlier this month. “It’s good for South Carolina, good for the governor of South Carolina, and anyone else in business and in any field or endeavor, to be able to contact somebody more quickly and more easily.”

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Or it would have been good if McMaster had been able to deliver …

Not only did Trump’s administration impose tariffs on imported washers, the tariffs it imposed are far harsher than what the ITC recommended.

How will that affect Samsung’s plans to locate in the Palmetto State?  Good question …

“Yesterday’s announcement is a great loss for American consumers and workers,” a Samsung spokesperson told us.  “This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices.”

The spokesperson added that the company has “already hired more than 600 U.S. workers at our new South Carolina facility,” which began production on January 12.

For its part, Whirlpool announced its intention to hire several hundred workers in Ohio following Trump’s decision.

Frankly, we’re shocked McMaster chose to stake himself out so prominently on this issue.  Anyone reading an electoral map can see Trump needs votes in Ohio and Michigan far more than he needs them in South Carolina.  Also, the adoption of a hard line on trade is consistent with what he campaigned on in 2016.

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