Several Connecticut industries are already feeling the effects of the U.S.- China trade war, and they don’t know where it’s going to end.
The U.S. raises import tariffs on China, and China raises import tariffs on U.S. products. That’s hitting home in lobstering, metals manufacturing, and at Hull Forest products, who suddenly ceased the purchase of logs that would be going to China.
Hull Forest Products is hitting the brakes on incoming logs, altering vendors that, because of the proposed tariffs from China, they are not buying any more logs until further notice. The domestic supply is saturated, and workers will feel the squeeze.
“We’re seeing a reduction in our working hours which will impact employees pay,” said Michael Bartlett, Forest Resources Manager.
Channel 3 took a tour of the facility on Friday, with Congressman Joe Courtney, where logs are turned into lumber for flooring, beams, and even the chips become bio-fuel.
“A week ago today the yard mill would be bustling with the sawmill running, shutting down early,” Bartlett said.
“It’s a real big concern because its affecting jobs, affecting the ripple effect on local economies,” Courtney said.
Congressman Courtney heard the same cry on Thursday in Groton when he toured Garbo Lobster. China is one of their bigger customers, but not with a tariff.
“The folks down at Garbo’s describe it as having a light switch turn off when 25% tariff on lobsters was announced,” Courtney said.
Courtney says orders to China were canceled right on the spot, and said the company told him the tariff is putting them out of business.
Local lobster fisherman like Mike Theiler said with a month left for the lobster season, he hopes the lobsters once destined for China don’t flood the market here.
“Short of a price crash up north. That would definitely have an impact on us. The tariffs at this point really don’t have much of an impact on a small amount of lobsters we’re bringing in,” Theiler said.
Last month, thin sheet metal manufacturer Seconn Fabrication in Waterford said the tariff hikes are affecting them as well, saying “probably raised about anywhere from 15-25% in the last 6 months between steel aluminum and stainless.”
It’s the first time in the Hull Forest company’s history that they’ve had to tell vendors “sorry, it’s not something that we want to do but we have to get through this challenging time.”
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