Charleston industrial market continues to expand

Key Takeaways

  • Charleston’s industrial market will take time to reach equilibrium.
  • The passage of steel, aluminum and solar cell tariffs should not significantly impact Charleston’s industrial market.

Charleston’s global economy

Global trade is rapidly expanding within the Charleston market due to positive changes, such as:

  • South Carolina imports setting records with the Port of Charleston moving more cargo boxes last year through the port than ever before in its 75-year history;
  • The Inland port in Greer, SC reporting a record number of shipments, a 20.4% increase over the shipments during 2016;
  • South Carolina exports at a record high of $32 billion in 2017, a 2.9% increase over 2016;
  • The Port of Charleston deepening currently underway; and
  • Larger cranes delivered to the Wando Welch Terminal, expanding the stacking capacity of shipping containers to 155 feet in a higher and tighter configuration.

While these factors are creating a positive environment for global trade, the world is abuzz about the passing of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act: the steel, aluminum and solar cell tariffs. While the motivation for the tariffs stems from the shipping regulation of lesser-quality materials lacking the high quality necessary for the U.S. military and limiting our manufacturing capabilities, businesses fear it will cause a spike in prices for all steel and aluminum products. This tariff will also affect the construction industry by possibly causing delays and building material shortages. In addition, many American businesses are worried about retaliation from U.S. trading partners.

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