ANDERSON, SC—Electrolux, which is in the process of expanding its refrigerator assembly plant here, has applied for an exemption to the tariffs being imposed on products from China.

John McAlister, director of government affairs at Electrolux, said the company has been given no timetable for consideration of the request. The company is facing higher costs from U.S.-made steel and from additional duties on imported goods.

“High steel prices are making a big impact on the cooling business,” McAlister says. “We buy U.S. steel, and the cost is up 20 percent (in the past year).”

The company buys its compressors from China, and that cost jumped 25 percent in July, when U.S. efforts to reduce its trade deficit with China led to additional tariffs.

“A lot of our parts are imported from China,” McAlister said, noting that “in many cases, the parts are only available in China.”

If the tariff exemption is granted, it will be retroactive from the July 6 effective date of the original tariff.

“U.S. steel prices, along with the tariffs, are making it harder for U.S. companies to compete against competitors manufacturing the same products outside the U.S.,” McAlister says.

Electrolux is in the middle of a $250 million expansion project that will double the size of its Anderson assembly plant. The project, which will increase the number of assembly lines from one to four, is on schedule for completion in the first half of 2019.

The plant employs approximately 1,900. It manufactures 2 million refrigerators annually.