Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday he understands the need to protect U.S. steel manufacturers, but Tennessee has become a manufacturing state and President Donald Trump's steel tariffs could set off a trade war that would not be good for the state.
Trump has said he would impose a 25-percent tax on steel imports and a 10-percent levy on aluminum.
“I’m concerned about it," Haslam told reporters after the annual Tennessee Prayer Breakfast at Lipscomb University.
"The additional costs to a lot of the manufacturers we have, particularly the automobile industry, I think could be very harmful to us. Second, you worry about a lot of reciprocal-type tariffs coming back at us that would affect a lot of the different items that we export out of Tennessee."
Already, the parent company of Jack Daniel's is warning that it could get hit with retaliatory action from other nations.
Paul Varga, CEO of Brown-Foreman, which owns Jack Daniel's in Lynchburg, said last week that the company could become an "unfortunate and unintended victim" of the tariffs.
And Robertson County's largest employer Electrolux, with more than 2,400 full-time workers, announced in January that it would be expanding operations in Springfield with a $250 million investment. But that was all put on a hold when Trump announced the possibility of tariffs.
"It's not a stop. It's a pause," Haslam said of the company's actions, also stating he is hopeful they will follow through with the investment.
Reach Reporter Jordan Buie at 615-726-5970 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jordanbuie.