Mid Continent Nail Corporation in southeast Missouri Poplar Bluff has been waiting for the U.S. Commerce Department to make decisions on its exemption requests filed six months ago. The exclusions involve President Trump’s 25 percent tariff on foreign steel. Mid Continent gets its steel from its own parent company in Mexico.
Since the tariffs began in June, the nail factory has slashed some 200 jobs and business declined almost immediately by about 75 percent.
Mid Continent launched in 1987 and is one of the largest employers in Butler County and the second largest one in Poplar Bluff. Nine out of the state’s ten poorest counties are in southeast Missouri.
The company – the last major U.S. nail manufacturer – says soaring costs from the steel tariffs have raised the price of the raw materials it uses to make nails. The increased prices have steered customers to find cheaper nails in China, Taiwan, India and elsewhere.
The U.S. Commerce Department has slowly answered exemption requests – leaving the future of many of U.S. companies, including Mid Continent, in a troubling state.
Some Missouri lawmakers have urged the Trump Administration to quickly grant exemptions to the plant, but whatever pressure has been applied has not led to a successful conclusion thus far.
Poplar Bluff is located in Trump land. In 2016, the Republican president won Butler County by 79%.
During a stop in Kansas City this year, President Trump defended his trade approach by pleading for the public to “be a little patient” and contended that farmers would eventually be “the biggest beneficiary”.
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