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Trade Commission Calls For Tariffs On LG, Samsung Washers

Looking to curtail Korean competition

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) will recommend that President Trump impose tariffs on imported LG and Samsung washers for the next three years.

The action is designed to protect American majap manufacturers from what the commission determined is a sweeping influx of Korean-branded washing machines that is harming U.S. vendors.

The so-called “safeguard” decision follows a years’-long effort by Whirlpool to stem the tide of imported Korean washers, first by claiming they undercut U.S. prices, then by arguing there are just too many to compete against effectively.

The recommended tariffs are significantly lower than those sought by Whirlpool, and call for a 20 percent surcharge on the first 1.2 million units and a 50 percent rate thereafter.

The rate would drop to 18 percent in the second year and 15 percent in the third year for units that come in under the quota, and to 45 percent and 40 percent, respectively, for units that exceed the 1.2 million-unit cut-off.

A separate quota and tariff system would be imposed on washer parts.

Washers manufactured in a host of countries including Mexico, Canada and, ironically, Korea, would be exempt from the tariffs. But Samsung and LG have long since shifted laundry production to other Asian nations to avoid prior punitive sanctions.

The tariffs’ three-year span reflects plans by LG and Samsung to begin producing washers in Tennessee and South Carolina as early as 2019, joining Whirlpool and GE/Haier which make laundry products in nearby Ohio and Kentucky.

“Soon, competition in the washer market will not be about domestic versus foreign production. It will be about competition among washers made in the United States – in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina,” LG said in a statement.

The USITC will send its recommendations to President Trump on Dec. 4. Trump ran on a platform of tougher trade sanctions and has pushed for more U.S. factory jobs from foreign manufacturers. He is expected to render a decision early next year.

LG said its Tennessee plant will create 600 local jobs while Samsung’s South Carolina facility will employ 954 American workers.