Oct 31, 2018

Associated Press Catches Up with Trade Builds America Panelist Chris Scott

Post by Mollie Johnson

“We first saw the steel tariffs hit us in January and February. Last night we went back to our hotel room and we saw another round of tariffs hitting our shelf brackets, our electrical components,” said manufacturer Chris Scott during Trade Builds America, a September event cosponsored by Freedom Partners and seven other organizations that explored the ripple effects of tariffs. “Every day it seems like a new tariff is coming up and we’re getting hit.”

Since then, business has not gotten easier.

A recent article by the Associated Press described how Scott — who runs small, family-owned refrigeration manufacturer Howard McCray in Philadelphia — has been getting emails and letters from suppliers hiking their prices due to Trump administration’s tariffs. And it has been occurring steadily for weeks.

The refrigeration display cases Howard McCray makes for convenience stores and restaurants rely on a variety of parts, many of which seem to keep making it onto the list of items affected by tariffs. So far, the manufacturer has been absorbing costs.

“Little Howard McCray can’t go out and raise prices 10 percent and lose all the market share that we’ve worked so hard to gain,” Scott told AP. But the small company can’t afford to absorb those costs forever, either.

The company uses Chinese-made shelf brackets. One of Scott’s suppliers now charges 10 percent more, a result of the latest round of tariffs on Chinese imports. Those tariffs are set to rise to 25 percent on Jan. 1. And according to the article, because of environmental regulations, it’s too expensive to manufacture the shelf brackets in the United States.

Howard McCray — like many other American businesses — is between a rock and a hard place. With little-to-no alternatives to rising costs, Scott said the company has had to postpone plans to expand the facility and the staff. If the tariffs persist, the company will have to get even more creative and curb costs other ways.

The only remedy? Eliminating these harmful tariffs altogether.

“I’m a U.S. manufacturer. Allow me to compete globally with the quality of my products and the pricing and [the fact that] I can build a better product with my craftsmen than what other companies can,” Scott told Freedom Partners after Trade Builds America. “But don’t give me an unlevel playing field where I have to pay a premium for the material I use in those products. Let me compete with what I can do with my innovativeness, my quality, my workmanship, my craftsmanship.”

Didn’t get to attend Trade Builds America? View the video of the entire event here.