Clariant may shift production out of Louisville to overseas due to Trump tariffs

Clariant Corp. has operations at 1227 S. 12th St. | Courtesy of Google Maps

The Switzerland-based chemicals producer Clariant announced at a community meeting on Wednesday that it might shift production overseas from its Louisville facilities because of uncertainty over new tariffs enacted by the Trump administration, according to the company spokeswoman.

Attending a bimonthly community advisory panel of the company located in his district on Wednesday, Metro Council President David James tweeted that “I just learned Tariffs impose by the President are having a direct effect on Clariant, they will be moving a significant portion of their production out of LouKY and to other countries as a direct result (of) The Presidents actions.”

Clariant spokeswoman Jodi Cohen confirmed to Insider Louisville that its site manager, Hans-Peter Gabski, did discuss uncertainty caused by the tariffs and that the company is looking at options for moving productions overseas, but said that no final decisions have been made to do so or to lay off workers.

“To stay competitive, Clariant may choose to move some limited production from the Louisville facility to other production facilities outside the United States,” said Cohen. “(Gabski) also emphasized that the move will not currently result in a reduction of workforce at the Louisville facility.”

Two weeks ago, Clariant CEO Hariolf Kottman indicated to the Financial Times that the company might shift production away from the United States to other countries as trade tensions over tariffs escalated, noting that products made in the U.S. and shipped to China had already been affected by the trade war between the two countries.

Clariant expanded its already-existing production in Louisville with a new $100 million polypropylene catalyst facility completed in 2016 — the company’s largest in the country — which created 40 new full-time jobs. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved Clariant for up to $800,000 in state tax incentives for building that facility.

Clariant currently has over 400 employees at its headquarters and three production facilities in Louisville.

Asked about the situation with Clariant, Mayor Greg Fischer issued a statement to Insider referencing the potential negative impact of tariffs.

“In a global economy where U.S. company production often depends on imports and exports, tariffs can impose unintended consequences on domestic companies,” stated Fischer. “As always we support federal policies that help our local businesses thrive and grow.”

Fischer added that Clariant “has been and continues to be an excellent corporate citizen. They hire locally and are invested and engaged in west Louisville. They are a key participant in our BEAM initiative and their apprenticeship programs continue to fuel our city’s skilled pipeline of advanced manufacturing workers. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Clariant and all other foreign-owned companies in our region.”