Rep. Ralph Norman talks Trump's tariffs, 'best of both worlds'
Many South Carolinians may have been concerned when President Donald Trump recently announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Tariffs could deeply impact the auto industry in a negative way by causing higher prices.
South Carolina is home to about 400 auto-related companies, according to The State newspaper in Columbia. The international trade research and consulting firm Trade Partnership released a report in early March predicting the auto industry would lose jobs due to the tariffs.
Congressman Ralph Norman of Rock Hill said he originally opposed the tariffs, but has come around since the president announced a list of countries exempted from the tax: Canada, Mexico, South Korea, European Union, Argentina, Brazil and Australia.
"Now, with the exemptions in place, in my mind, it's not that much of a factor," he said. "Is it going to raise the price? Yes. But it's a lot less than it could have been."
He said the tariffs without the exempted countries would have likely negatively impacted many manufacturing companies.
But he said the exemptions would make the negative impact less, so he supports the president.
Norman said exempting several major steel and aluminum producing countries makes the tariff much more "palatable" and the "best of both worlds."
He noted the tariffs would still be imposed on Russia and China.
Before exemptions were announced, The Trade Partnership released a report that estimated a net of nearly 146,000 U.S. jobs would be lost because of the tariff.
That would be more than five jobs lost for every one job gained, according to the report.
Norman said adding exemptions is a step closer to solving that problem.
"That's not going to fix that completely, but what it's doing is the steel companies, it's giving an incentive to invest," he said.
He said Trump's key goal in imposing tariffs is to make the U.S. more independent. He said the exemptions could counter some of the negative effects predicted like job loss and higher prices.
"What the president wants is fair trade," Norman said. "He's not against — he doesn't want the imbalance in trade. All a tariff is, is a tax. He wants the American companies to invest in America."
Norman said he understands and believes in the president's message.
"Manufacturing, as he said , steel is a basic," Norman said. "It's in everything we do. So I think he sent the message that we want manufacturing to increase, here's the incentives."