SEATTLE (AP) — President Donald Trump’s trade war with China is having some complicated effects in Washington, one of the nation’s most trade-dependent states.
Washington’s overseas shipments of apples, dairy, seafood, wheat and soy have plummeted. China has hinted it might order fewer Boeing planes, which make up a huge part of the state’s exports. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s trade adviser says some companies appreciate Trump’s efforts but that most have had to absorb higher costs.
Washington exported more than $70 billion in goods last year, which accounted for 5% of American goods exported overall and 14% of U.S. goods exported to China.
An analysis by earlier this year estimated that the Trump administration’s tariffs, and retaliatory tariffs imposed by countries including China, Mexico and Canada, had already displaced 1,500 jobs in Washington.
Without a trade war resolution, REC Silicon in Moses Lake will lay off about 150 employees remaining and shut down the facility at the end of June. Production at the Moses Lake plant was halted last week to reduce spending and maintain liquidity.
“We will regrettably have to do major layoffs in Moses Lake, which will definitely not only hurt REC but the community,” said REC Silicon President Tore Torvund. “But that is the only option that remains if we don’t get access to the Chinese market.”
Earlier this decade, the company, which prides itself on producing solar-grade polysilicon more efficiently than competitors, did about $600 million in annual sales to China.
But in 2014, after the U.S. imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels, China retaliated with extremely high tariffs on U.S. polysilicon. REC was essentially blocked from the Chinese market, said Francine Sullivan, REC’s vice president of business development.