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Ongoing trade war affecting businesses in Elkhart

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ELKHART, Ind.-- There’s a lot of different wars that take place around the world, however the U.S., China trade war won’t cost American soldiers their lives but could cost you your job or your small business.

Companies like ASA Electronics in Elkhart are feeling the hit.

"Normally things could flow, you can predict. There’s absolutely no predicting what is going on right now," said CEO of ASA Electronics, Brent Barrow.

The U.S. began looking into China’s trade policies back in 2017 and decided the low priced goods and trade imbalance are unfair to american companies.

Their answer? To place tariffs on more than 200 billion dollars of imported Chinese goods.

With no concrete solution in sight, it’s leaving companies like asa electronics stuck in the middle of it all.

“We manufacture audio, video, safety systems and control systems for all kinds of niche vehicles," said Barrow.

Those are just some of china’s top exports to the U.S. All kinds of business, from electronics to RV makers to farmers are being hit.

"You talk to every manufacturer in this area and they’re getting hit everywhere," said Barrow.

Since manufacturing is the largest industry in Elkhart, Elkhart Chamber of Commerce President Levon Johnson agrees ASA Electronics isn’t alone in the battle.

“As we talked to our members, especially in the manufacturing world, that trend is a little unsettling. It affects everybody from board members from presidents of companies, to humnan resources, to employees.”

According to the president of ASA Electronics, Brent Barrow, 67% percent of their parts are imported from china and because of the tariffs, sales are falling

“O profitability definitely has declines upwards of 10, 15 percent month by month," said Barrow.

He fears higher prices are will keep people from spending.

“At the end of the day the people that are paying more it isn’t China. The real truth of the matter is that the taxes are being consumed ultimately everybody in the supply chain mostly on the american side but a majority of it is being consumed all the way down to the retail consumer," said Barrow. We’re living day by day, week by week. Literally tweet by tweet trying to figure out what to do. May, it went up to 25%."

Johnson says the president's hardball tactic isn’t sitting well here in the hoosier state.

“Not a fan, and I don’t think anyone here is a fan. As I listen to our legislators I don’t think they’re necessarily a fan. You really weaponized tariffs,” said Johnson.

But determining how long the trade war will last is almost impossible.

“We expect this to be a protracted battle, and we don’t expect any immediate relief. We’re planning likes its more long term. You plan for the worst and hope for the best. We’ll get through this like every company can. It’s just a very painful process," said Barrow.

President Donald Trump said Monday, if the Chinese president agrees to meet at the G-20 summit this month, he may not impose the latest round of threatened tariffs.


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John 8 days ago
Yes Brad your right. China keeps their cost low. Artificially low. This is a fact. I compete against it every day with our products. But all of our products are still made in the US with all US materials. Yes products could and will cost more made in US. This is because we have a high tax rate, high health care costs for employees, high cost of regulatory compliance, environmental regulations OSHA regulations, minimum wage laws, Etc The list goes on and on all designed for the safety and betterment of the American way of life. All things that China disregards. Can you really trust that certificate of compliance signed in China? They are already changing the country of origin on their products to say Vietnam (source RT news https://www.rt.com/newsline/461524-vietnam-made-china-goods/) Are your China products not costing more now with the tariff? Will you not pass on the increase to your customers? At that point would it not have been better to have made them in the US to begin with?
John 8 days ago
Great reporting. Where was the story when they started importing 67% of their products from China at the expense of American workers and business in the first place? Are we supposed to feel sorry for them now?
Brad John 8 days ago
Unfortunately John, China keeps the cost of goods lower. The right idea is to have everything made in America, but you have to understand that everything will cost more. The only way to compete with China's prices are for Americans to work for less money and that's not going to happen. You're going to have to make a decision on wether you want everything to be made in America and cost more or to accept cheaper goods from China...
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