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Toilet paper maker worries about Trump presidency

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 01:23:02-05

There's nothing fancy about most rolls of toilet paper, but one San Diego company says things could get pretty rough under President-elect Donald Trump. 

That company, Nimbus Eco, makes its toilet paper mostly out of bamboo.

"Definitely strong and soft," said Josh Askin, the company's vice president. "What we really like people to tell us is that they can't tell the difference."

But to build that different kind of toilet paper, and save trees, Nimbus Eco needs a kind of bamboo mainly found in China.

"You're looking for industrial bamboo," Askin said. "And you also need a steady enough source that you can continually buy it."

And shipping back all that toilet paper from China, means spending green paper here.

"Our costs come from the price of our goods, tariffs, and shipping," Askin said.

He's worried tariffs are going to increase under President-elect Donald Trump. That's because he's threatened a 45% tariff on imports from China.

"Adding a 45 percent tax to that would put us out of business," Askin said.

Because then Nimbus Eco couldn't offer two packs for $5 at Gelson's. The company plans to stock local shelves with paper towels in March.

But it may not be that dire.

Lynn Reaser, chief economist at Point Loma Nazarene University, said such a high tariff is more of a negotiating tactic with Cina for other concessions. Plus, she said a stronger dollar should help importers.

She warned, however, that consumers may see higher prices because of the Trump Administration's efforts to restrain imports from Mexico and China. 

 Askin said he hopes President-Elect Trump finds the right solution.

"As long as he keeps his promise to make the United States business friendly, I'm optimistic," he said. 

That way, his bamboo product, and not his business, goes down local drains.