Panel: Washing Machine Makers in U.S. Hurt by Imports

The United States International Trade Commission reported on Thursday that the increase in imports of large washing machines for residences harmed domestic manufacturers, a big step toward placing an across the board duty or quota on foreign made machines from companies such as LG and Samsung.

The case, which Whirlpool Corp U.S. appliance behemoth brought, sought out global safeguard restrictions that would stop rivals from South Korea such as LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics, from flooding the market in the U.S. with less expensive washing machines.

The four-member panel unanimously found that the large number of foreign made washing machines imported to the U.S. hurt domestic makers and will recommend before December 4 remedies to fix the situation to President Donald Trump. Early in 2018, Trump is expected to make his decision.

A hearing open to the public will be held October 19 for possible remedies, said a spokesperson from the ITC.

The panel did not specifically name washing machines made in South Korea, which are already subject to duties, as being responsible for harming manufacturers in the U.S.

Chairman Jeff Fettig from Whirlpool said the panel’s decision was vindication in the year’s long battle the company has had with LG and Samsung, which he has accused of moving production across the globe to avoid duties in imports into the U.S.

This form of corrective action will result in the creation of manufacturing jobs in the U.S., says Fettig.

Both LG and Samsung released statements that said import curbs would be hurtful to the consumer by increasing prices, limiting their choice and stifling new innovation.

The companies cited their investments that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S.-based appliance factories, and both announced since President Trump was inaugurated in January.

Whirlpool was accused by LG of using trade laws in the U.S. to restrain a competitor with new innovations.

LG in a prepared statement said that soon the washing machine market competition will not be about domestic against foreign productions, but will be about competition amongst washing machines made the U.S., Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Ohio.

The case involving washing machines is a dilemma for President Trump and the trade agenda of America First, because it potentially puts him in a position to punish businesses that bring new manufacturing jobs into the U.S.

The decision by the ITC is its second in the last two weeks that found injury in a case involving global safeguard.