The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has confirmed its preliminary finding that Samsung and LG are selling washers in the U.S. at below fair value, and set antidumping margins of 52.5 percent and 32.1 percent, respectively, on the vendors’ Chinese-made imports.
The sanctions, which were lowered significantly from the agency’s initial ruling last summer, will nonetheless impact the Korean companies’ U.S. laundry businesses should the measures pass final muster with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).
That body will vote on Jan. 10 to determine whether the imports caused injury to the U.S. washer industry.
“The Commerce Department’s ruling is an important victory in the continuing efforts to hold companies accountable when they systematically violate trade laws to gain a competitive advantage,” said Whirlpool chairman/CEO Jeff Fettig.
The DOC action was triggered by an antidumping petition filed by Whirlpool one year ago. Samsung and LG would be required to pay cash deposits at the double-digit rates should the USITC determine that the manufacturers had engaged in predatory pricing.
For its part, LG has argued that its Chinese washer imports are not causing “material injury” to Whirlpool or other U.S. manufacturers due to their mass-premium pricing, and that the antidumping rates, while dramatically lower than those originally imposed, are still “much higher than required by law” as a result of “a wacky and possibly illegal margin calculation methodology,” the company said in a statement.
Whirlpool’s petition was the latest in a long series of antidumping and patent-infringement charges brought by the world’s largest majap maker against its Korean competitors. In this most recent case, Whirlpool contended that Samsung and LG skirted previous antidumping rulings and tariffs on Korean and Mexican-made washers by moving laundry production to China, and then shifted manufacturing to Vietnam and Thailand to avoid paying the cash deposits after stockpiling inventory in the U.S.
In its final ruling, the DOC declined to apply Samsung’s dumping rate retroactively, as its stockpiled washers failed to meet the agency’s legal threshold for critical circumstances.
Executives from LG Electronics USA made their case before the USITC at a domestic injury hearing last Wednesday.
For Samsung, the ruling is the second washer setback in as many months following a precautionary recall of nearly 3 million top-loaders in November. The action was prompted by reports of machines flying apart during highs-peed spin cycles.