Trump’s trade tariffs are hitting one sector of the economy especially hard

When President Donald Trump first imposed his tariffs on imported products and materials in 2018, appliance manufacturer Whirlpool welcomed the news because it meant they’d be able to sell more than their main rivals in the market, LG and Samsung. While the price of the imported brands rose with the trade war and tariffs, Whirlpool was able to keep their prices steady, making their products more attractive to consumers.

But now Whirlpool is starting to feel the pain from the Trump trade war, too. Especially since the cost of aluminum and steel has risen dramatically, NPR reports:

“Trump imposed more tariffs, on metals including aluminum and steel. Steel, in particular, is critical to building almost any appliance.

“Suddenly, appliance-makers everywhere, including Whirlpool, began complaining about the rising cost of raw materials. They had little choice but to start raising their own prices.”

And prices for appliances continue to rise as the trade tariffs remain in place.

Steve Sheinkopf, the owner of Yale Appliance & Lighting in Boston, says the higher prices are dramatic:

“On certain products, you could be looking at a 14 to 16 percent increase from last year to this year. When you talk about [washing] machines that people want to buy, front-loaders, I think you’re looking at $200 to $400 difference versus last year.”

While some have been pleased to see the administration take a harder line on trade, the simple fact is that tariffs make goods more expensive, meaning consumers have to make up the difference in cost, which in some cases means they’re less likely to make a major purchase such as a washer or dryer. And reduced sales are bad for the U.S. economy as well as the global market for goods.

Also, foreign companies are learning how to beat their American competitors, and they’re making aggressive moves to keep their share of the market:

“Whirlpool’s Korean competitors, LG and Samsung, fast-tracked new manufacturing plants — in America. It’s great news for American jobs. But for Whirlpool?”