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Instead, Mid Continent’s factory has doubled in size since Deacero’s purchase. The company, facing fewer restrictions on steel exports after the North American Free Trade Agreement, shipped steel into Missouri, willing to pay skilled workers more to take advantage of cheaper energy costs in the United States and a location that allowed swift delivery to U.S. customers.
But President Trump has put 25 percent tariffs on steel imports, bumping production costs and prompting Deacero to reconsider this arrangement. With Mid Continent charging more for nails, orders are down 70 percent from this time a year ago despite a booming construction industry. Company officials say that without relief, the Missouri plant could be out of business by Labor Day — or that remaining production could move to Mexico or another country.
And so trade restrictions aimed at preventing U.S. jobs from heading to Mexico and elsewhere have instead hampered a Mexican company’s multimillion-dollar effort to create jobs in the United States — an unintended consequence of Trump’s trade war that demonstrates the difficulty of attacking trading partners without hurting workers at home.
The layoffs have already begun. The company now employs fewer than 400 workers, down from about 500 before the tariffs took effect last month. Temporary contract workers have been let go. Some permanent workers have left for other jobs, in anticipation of a new wave of employment losses or the possible shuttering of the plant.
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