By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
WASHINGTON — The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has imposed stiff import duties on largecapacity clothes washers made in South Korea and Mexico by Daewoo, Electrolux, LG and Samsung.
The unanimous 6-0 decision confirmed last month’s ruling by the U.S. Commerce Department that the manufacturers harmed the domestic washer industry by selling imported models here below fair value.
As a result of the ITC’s vote, U.S. Customs will impose duties on Korean-made washers by Samsung, LG and Daewoo of 11 percent, 13 percent, and 151 percent, respectively. Duties on Mexican imports will be 36 percent for Electrolux washers and 72 percent for Samsung models.
The dumping investigation was initiated in December 2011 by Whirlpool, which moved production of U.S.-bound washers from Mexico to its Clyde, Ohio, facilities last year and will not be subject to the tariffs.
The ITC’s actions may also have little effect on Samsung and LG, which similarly shifted much of their laundry production to China, industry observers say. The ruling may have the greatest impact on Electrolux, which still produces some of its U.S. laundry products in Mexico.
Electrolux, through a spokesperson, said it “strongly disagrees” with the decision and plans to appeal it.
The company noted that its U.S. market share in laundry is less than one-tenth of Whirlpool’s, or 5.6 percent vs. 56 percent, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). “As a very small player in the market, we continue to believe we did not injure them,” the spokesperson said.
Electrolux added that the “vast majority” of its laundry products are not affected by the ruling, suggesting that they are produced at its plants in the U.S. and Europe or below the 3.7-cubic-foot-capacity threshold.
LG similarly contests the notion that the U.S. majap industry — principally Whirlpool — has been materially injured by imported Korean washers, and said it plans to review its options for appeal before the U.S. Court of International Trade after the ITC releases its final determination next month.
Wayne Park, president/CEO of LG Electronics USA, added that the ruling will harm U.S. retailers and consumers by “artificially raising prices on some of the country’s most popular washing machines.”
Samsung said in a statement it was “disappointed” by the ITC’s determination, which is inconsistent with its premium product strategy and could “reduce the full range of choice in premium washers for some American consumers.”
The company added that it will continue to compete in, and maintain its long-term commitment to, the U.S. home appliance market.
Marc Bitzer, president of Whirlpool North America, called the ITC’s actions “a great victory for the U.S. appliance industry, especially for our employees and consumers … We expect this ruling will restore a level competitive playing field that enables Whirlpool and other U.S. manufacturers to continue investing in America to produce the high-quality, innovative products that consumers deserve.”
According to the Commerce Department, some $434 million in Mexican-made washers and $569 million in Korean-made washers were imported into the U.S. in 2011.
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