Lehigh Valley

Steel tariffs to impact local industries

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - President Trump's decision to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum continues to rattle world markets, and is having an impact here in our area.

"I'm not sure that the overall economy is ready for this," said Tim Kardish, CEO of Sussex Wire in Easton.

His company makes mini metal components for industries like health care and aerospace, and he gets material from domestic and international sources.

"The concern there is it's gonna raise our costs," he said. "In addition to that it means we're gonna have to raise prices to our customers."

And they'll have to raise prices to their customers, and ultimately, consumers will pay more.

That's not just true in his industry, it applies to other items like cars and aluminum cans.

"People have to be buying American," said Jerry Green, president of United Steelworkers, Local 2599 in Bethlehem.

"So if the consumer has to pay a little more, that's still meaning that the jobs are staying here," he said.

Green worked at Bethlehem Steel out of high school and he's been waiting for tariffs like this.

In fact, he thinks taxes on foreign imports could have helped stop Bethlehem Steel from going under. 

"This has been a long time coming. However it has to be right," he said. 

He wants the taxes directed at specific countries that sell cheap steel in America.

Green calls himself a modern Democrat, and laughed when asked if he was surprised to be in line with Trump on tariffs. 

"Donald Trump actually surprises me at some of the things he does," he said. "If he can do things that help the working class, I give him hats off for that."

Trump surprises Kardish too.

Last time he spoke to WFMZ, he was elated about tax cuts.

Now, he's concerned the negative impact of Trump's tariffs could balance out the good of the tax cut. 

"It will. I mean it's actually kind of going the opposite direction," he said. 

Kardish fears the tariffs could put his plans in jeopardy to invest in more workers and equipment.

"We may find ourselves not being able to do what we were hoping to be able to do," he said matter-of-factly.

Trump is expected to make final announcements on the trade taxes next week.  

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