Growing strains between the United States and its international trade partners could have a disproportionate impact on South Carolina's economy, potentially hitting local workers and consumers in their wallets.
A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce projects South Carolina will be the eighth-most affected state by tariffs from Canada, China, the European Union and Mexico imposed in response to new tariffs from President Donald Trump's administration, according to an interactive graphic the chamber posted on its website.
South Carolina has some $3 billion in exports to those countries that either will or could be affected by the new tariffs. Eighty-five percent of those exports, or $2.6 billion worth, could be impacted by Chinese tariffs, with the other $400 million primarily being hit by Canada and Mexico, based on U.S. Commerce Department statistics.
States with large automobile production facilities, such as South Carolina, are among the most exposed to the tariffs, according to Bloomberg News. However, the chamber's numbers show the three most impacted products — refrigerators, paper pulp products and lawnmowers — make up a combined $112 million of South Carolina's exports to Canada.
Canada retaliated with $12.6 billion in tariffs against American-made products after the Trump administration targeted steel and aluminum imports with new tariffs. The Trump administration has made aggressive use of tariffs to address what it sees as trade imbalances with other countries.
BMW, the German-based car company with manufacturing operations in South Carolina, recently wrote to the Commerce Department to warn that rising steel and aluminum prices in response to the tariffs will negatively impact its S.C. operations, potentially putting jobs at risk.
The most exposed S.C. exports to Mexico are steel and iron products, while China imports billions in motor vehicles from the Palmetto State. The EU also gets iron and steel from South Carolina, plus $3.9 million in motorboats.
The chamber estimates that 579,300 South Carolina jobs are supported by international trade.
The chamber opposes the Trump administration's tariff policy, estimating the impact of the tariffs on each state with an interactive map on TheWrongApproach.com.
It may not be a coincidence that South Carolina is so heavily hit by other countries' tariffs. Many are targeted specifically at states that have been supportive of Trump. The next three most-impacted states after South Carolina are Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — with a combined $4.1 billion in exports. All three of those states were pivotal in Trump's 2016 election win.
Note: An earlier version of this story reflected an incorrect ranking for South Carolina.