BENTON HARBOR, MICH. —
Whirlpool filed petitions last week with the U.S. Commerce Department and International Trade Commission (ITC) accusing LG and Samsung of predatory pricing practices.
The antidumping and countervailing duty petitions, which LG described as “outrageous,” claim the Korean companies are selling bottom-mount refrigerators in the U.S. at prices that are substantially below market value, assisted by subsidies from the Korean government.
“When foreign producers compete in the U.S. market using unfair trade practices, we have no choice but to take action to defend the integrity of the global trading system, our approximately 23,500 U.S. employees, the U.S. refrigerator industry, and American consumers,” said Marc Bitzer, president of Whirlpool North America. “Dumping is an unfair trade practice used to drive out competitors, which means consumers end up with fewer choices.”
The antidumping petition requests an investigation into the production of bottom-mount refrigerators, which are manufactured by the two companies in Korea and Mexico.
The countervailing duty petition requests an investigation into what Whirlpool describes as “substantial unfair subsidies given by the Korean government to Samsung and LG in the past few years,” which have injured U.S.-based producers.
Whirlpool said the infractions constitute unfair trade practices that violate U.S. laws and caused material injury to the U.S. appliance manufacturing industry. It also said the practices and their impact were confirmed by “an extensive investigation.”
For its part, LG described the petitions as “outrageous” and “unfounded.”
“Average selling prices in the U.S. for LG-manufactured multi-door refrigerators are consistently higher than those built by Whirlpool,” LG said in a statement. “In recent years, Korean manufacturers have led the introduction of multi-door refrigerators that employ superior technology, stylish designs and manufacturing efficiencies. There has been no material injury to the U.S. industry. Rather, this is an example of the inability of a domestic manufacturer to keep up technologically.”
LG promised to cooperate fully with the Commerce Dept. and ITC in its investigation.
Similarly, Samsung said in a statement that it “respects the trade rules in the U.S. market, and is confident that the Department of Commerce will confirm that there has been no dumping or subsidization and that the ITC will find that there has been no material injury caused to U.S. producers. We will continue to focus on responding to market demand and satisfying our customers, especially in the refrigeration market in the U.S.”
The case is not be the first time Whirlpool and LG have come to blows, with both manufacturers sharing a long history of suits and counter-suits over patent infringements and deceptive trade practices.