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Whirlpool asks feds for 50-percent tariff on competitor imports

21 Octobre 2017

Whirlpool filed a safeguard petition earlier this year to stop Samsung and LG from repeated "country hopping", or moving production centers to evade USA trade laws.

"They have cheated domestic producers before. This is our last chance to get it right", Whirlpool attorney Jack Levy told the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Whirlpool and GE Appliances, bought a year ago by China's Haier Group, are also seeking import quotas on key components such as washer cabinets, tubs and basket assemblies to prevent Samsung and LG from opening USA "kitting", or "screwdriver" operations that simply assemble machines largely from imported parts.

The request follows an October 5 ruling by the ITC that a surge of large residential washer imports from South Korean companies Samsung and LG have seriously injured American manufacturers and workers.

Whirlpool attorney Jack Levy told the ITC that "a strong remedy would force the South Korean manufacturers to 'country hop one more time, to America, ' where they would compete more fairly and strengthen the USA manufacturing base", Reuters reports.

Based on Thursday's argument, the ITC is to vote on what remedy to impose on November 21 and make its written recommendation to President Donald Trump by December 4.

Daniel Porter, an attorney representing LG, said a 50 percent duty would severely hurt LG and Samsung by shutting their imports out of the USA market until they start US production in 2019.

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Samsung and LG's combined share of the washing machine market in the USA rose to 31 percent in the first half of this year from 23 percent in 2014, while Whirlpool's share dropped to 37 percent from 41 percent during the same period, according to the U.S. market research company TraQline.

Samsung is now building a factory in Newberry, South Carolina, and LG is building one in Clarksville, Tennessee.

Porter said these factories would likely employ fewer workers if import restrictions kept Samsung and LG washers out of the USA market for a year.

"Whirlpool's 50 percent proposal is nothing short of raw, naked protectionism to allow Whirlpool to reach a cash windfall for a year or two", Porter told the panel.

Both sides brought out members of Congress representing their plant locations to help argue their cases.

Congressman Ralph Norman of SC said, "I am concerned that restrictive measures (on Samsung) will have a negative impact on new investments in United States large residential washing machine production".

Whirlpool asks feds for 50-percent tariff on competitor imports