COLUMBIA — A day after President Donald Trump opted to slap new tariffs on large residential washing machine imports, Gov. Henry McMaster denounced the decision as an ill-considered move that threatens to hinder foreign investment in the state.
"I thought it was a bad decision. I told them so. I went up and testified. But the facts unfortunately did not win the day," McMaster said Tuesday at an event with business leaders organized by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
South Korean manufacturer Samsung opened a new $380 million home appliance hub in Newberry earlier this month. The company has hired hundreds of workers for the new plant and had plans to boost that number to 1,000 jobs by 2020.
Now, after speaking to Samsung executive's Monday evening, McMaster told reporters the company will have to consider next steps moving forward.
"They're analyzing the entire situation," McMaster said. "They are as disappointed as we are."
The Republican governor, who often touts his background as the first statewide elected official in the country to endorse Trump in 2016, directed the focus of his disappointment at the U.S. International Trade Commission, which recommended the tariffs.
But it was Trump who ultimately approved the trade actions. In a signing ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, the president said the new tariffs "demonstrate to the world that the United States won't be taken advantage of any more."
McMaster saw it differently.
"I think they made an error," McMaster said. "I'm disappointed, but we'll work with it and we'll do what we can to make sure Samsung's investment is strong and productive for the people of our state."
The decision was a major victory for Whirlpool, an American manufacturer headquartered in Michigan, who complained that foreign companies were flooding the U.S. market with cheap washers.
The tariffs on large residential washing machines and imported components will start at up to 50 percent and phase out after three years.
Several other South Carolina Republicans spoke out against Trump's decision, with U.S. Reps. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill and Mark Sanford of Charleston calling it a short-sighted mistake that will cost American jobs and raise costs for consumers.