A wide variety of aluminum extrusions at Nanshan America, 3600 U.S. 52 South. The company is one of many in Lafayette that uses or transforms steel and aluminum for manufacturing. Staff photo by John Terhune

A wide variety of aluminum extrusions at Nanshan America, 3600 U.S. 52 South. The company is one of many in Lafayette that uses or transforms steel and aluminum for manufacturing. Staff photo by John Terhune

LAFAYETTE — Wait and see.

That's how many local businesses are reacting, at least publicly, to President Donald Trump's announcement of tariffs. 

"We do not foresee near-term impact to employment levels due, specifically, to the impact of the U.S. imposed tariff policy," Wabash National President Brent Yeagy said in a statement. "It remains to be seen what the longer term impact of tariffs will be."

But experts warn the tariffs can have significant impact on local businesses, from soybean farms to car parts manufacturers. Full-blown trade war can cripple the Greater Lafayette economy, they warn, as the area's economy ranks sixth in the nation in its reliance on exports. 

"This type of trade war has caused lot of stress and harm to a lot of different sectors of the economy," said Marshall Martin, an agricultural economics professor and the senior associate director of agricultural research at Purdue University.

Trump announced 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum earlier this month, although many countries such as Brazil have gotten temporary exemptions. He has asked officials last week to draft a list of tariffs on Chinese products. 

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