ECU economist warns of negative impacts from President's tariff plan

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A new tariff plan proposed by President Trump could cost you more money in the long run, at least that's according to one local economist.

(Image Source: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0 / MGN)

The president's plan would place tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

This proposed plan could affect the price of all kinds of metal goods, including aluminum cans like those used by Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston.

But one of the owners, Trent Mooring, says it may not be all bad for them as they mostly use bottles and not cans in production.

"Out of our overall production, only about 5 percent of what we make at Mother Earth goes out in the cans," he tells WITN.

That's one reason why he says they're not worried about the president's new proposal. The other reason is because of a tax break breweries received earlier this year.

"So for us, we're still coming out better than if we didn't have the tax cut," Mooring says.

But he says other breweries which do rely on canning their beer could have a problem.

President Trump is proposing tariffs of 25-percent on steel and 10-percent on aluminum.

"You know you've got some breweries out there you know that are doing upwards of 150,000-200,000 barrels of beer, you know, so some of the breweries only can," he says. "To a brewery like that, it's a big difference."

Dr. Haiyong Liu is the chair of ECU's Economics Department and he says most of the positives would only help the small American steel and aluminum industries, but the negatives would affect everything from the price of cars to driving up the costs of agricultural goods.

"If really the aluminum price went up and then we might have to pay more for a beer can, and as a result, the restaurant industry might be affected," Liu says.

He says the other problem is it may lead other countries to place tariffs on American exports.

"I think the last thing we want to see is a trade war, we will feel the impact, no one is alone," he explains.

Liu says it would be hard for a tariff like the one proposed by the president not to have negative effects in a global economy and those effects would also be felt even in Eastern Carolina.

He says that aluminum and steel account for 2-percent of U.S. imports.