Tariffs could have ripple effect on local businesses in the Triad

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- From construction projects to the six pack of soda or beer you buy at the local gas station, a surprising amount of industries rely on aluminum or steel for their business.

A 25 percent tax on steel imports, or a tariff, and a 10 percent tax on aluminum imports announced by President Donald Trump already has businesses figuring out how it will impact their bottom line.

"My gut reaction was concern,” said Dan Rossow, taproom manager at Wiseman Brewery.

Wiseman has been around for a little over a year in Winston-Salem and recently started canning their beer. That process will now cost them more.

"It may not seem like much when you're talking about one cent per can, but when you look at the big picture, it really does add up,” Rossow said.

They have a small scale operation compared to bigger local breweries like Foothills, or on an even bigger scale companies like Anheuser-Busch.

Wiseman will have to offset their small cost increase somehow and Rossow predicts across the board people can expect a price increase at the store.

"To be a big, big brewery right now would certainly be more challenging,” Rossow said.

But the industry ultimately helped by these tariffs is American Steel Mills, an industry Jeff Bellows and Hirshfeld Industries in Greensboro have been working with for decades.

Hirshfeld buys the steel to craft into trusses and support beams you see under bridges on highways across the country, and for those projects they have to use American steel.

"You could buy imported steel a lot cheaper than you can buy American made steel,” Bellows said. "I even saw one mill opening up in Illinois based on just the talk."

Bellows has noticed the prices inching up even though the tariffs haven’t taken effect yet.

But economists like Jeff Sarbaum at the University of North Carolina Greensboro believes these tariffs could lead to retaliatory taxes from other countries on American products.

"What happens is people sort of get in tit-for-tat behavior and the thing jsut slowly spins out of control,” Sarbaum said.

Sarbaum says most economists agree that economic policy focused on protecting one industry usually has an adverse effect on several others.

"On some level it's a wait and see, but I think it's got a lot of people nervous,” Sarbaum said.

President Trump has said these tariffs are negotiable, as many countries are already lining up to the table to see if they can be exempt.

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