Tariff troubles

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on foreign sources of metal seem to be helping the steel industry in the Midwest, but the retaliatory actions China, Canada and the European Union are taking against the U.S. seem to be hurting New Hampshire businesses.

In fact, according to estimates provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lobsters valued at about $14 million may not be exported from New Hampshire to China because of the “trade war.”

That’s a lot of lobster.

Other threatened New Hampshire exports, chamber officials said, include $1.7 million worth of sugar confection destined for Canada, $1.9 million worth of T-shirts to Europe and $600,000 worth of fans to Mexico.

“We slap a tariff on them, they turn around and slap a tariff on that, and who gets hurt in this? My feeling is, small businesses,” said Steve Carter, who serves as president and CEO of Amherst-based Williams and Hussey Machine Co. Inc., which produces knives for woodworking professionals. The firm purchases steel to craft the knives.

Meanwhile, Nashua-based W.H. Bagshaw Co. Inc. buys approximately 50,000 pounds of steel per year, turning the raw material into pins, needles and other machined parts.

“We had to have a lot of meetings, and correspondence with our vendors and our customers, and we also had to work internally on how we’re going to account for all of this,” company Vice President Adria Bagshaw said.

In all, according to the chamber, $29 million worth of New Hampshire exports are threatened by the metal tariffs. Furthermore, officials said 184,000 jobs in New Hampshire are supported by “global trade.”

We support Trump’s stated goals for the tariffs. There are obvious benefits, including enhanced national security, to having strong domestic steel and aluminum industries.

Still, the administration should work to mitigate the harm done to states such as New Hampshire as much as possible. The viability of small Granite State businesses may hang in the balance.