Easing trade war with China would be major boost to SWFL economy

Reporter: Erika Jackson
Materials Peter Giustina, a manger at Superior Fabrication, uses in his business. (Credit: WINK News)
Materials Peter Giustina, a manger at Superior Fabrication, uses in his business. (Credit: WINK News)

The trade war between the United States and China is easing. Yesterday we told you both sides agreed to roll back tariffs in phases. While President Donald Trump denied the rollback on Friday, it is likely a negotiating tactic and the rollback would boost the Southwest Florida economy.

Many billboards in Charlotte County are constructed using metals from Peter Giustina’s team at Superior Fabrication. Giustina buys mostly American materials from suppliers, but about a tenth comes from overseas, like China, putting his business at the center of the trade war.

“That starts to put a little bit of a bind on us as far as a job, selling the job,” Giustina said.

Giustina had to raise his prices on projects incorporating Chinese materials by 10% to 15%. He spends a lot of his time explaining to his customers the reason for the price increase.

Dr. Victor Claar, an economics professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, said that is not new. “What’s new this time around is how significant they are,” he said. “How long they’ve lasted and the number of goods.”

The U.S. has imposed levies on $360 billion worth of Chinese goods. Claar told WINK News the typical American pays around $400 to $1,000 more a year on goods compared to prices before the trade war with China. It also hurts U.S. businesses trying to export products to China.

Our partners at Gulfcoast Business said companies selling aluminum, aerospace parts and scrap products have the most impact from the tariffs as those are the most popular items sold to China. But Claar said timber and citrus exports from Florida are down by over 50% this year.

“To some degree any industry that uses any inputs that are in any way related to a country we have a trade war with like china,” Claar said, “you’re feeling the effects.”

Still, Guistina believes that overall, the tariffs are in the best interest of American small businesses. “It slows down the amount of import coming in,” he said. Guistina is hoping for the best outcome for our economy and our country.

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