BENTON HARBOR — Whirlpool Corp., the Benton Harbor-based appliance manufacturer, announced it had filed a “safeguard petition” with the United States International Trade Commission.
The company said the petition is the next step in what it called “ongoing efforts of Samsung and LG to evade U.S. trade laws.” The U.S. government has twice found that washing machines from the two manufacturers were “dumped” — sold below their actual cost — in the U.S. by Samsung and LG. Samsung and LG responded to these prior rulings by relocating their manufacturing to other foreign countries in order to circumvent the rulings.
Whirlpool said a safeguard petition addresses imports from the two companies reardless of their country of manufacture, “to address a pattern of cheating through country hopping.”
“This filing addresses unprecedented behavior by two serial violators of U.S. trade laws,” said Jeff M. Fettig, Whirlpool chairman and CEO. “If not for this unlawful behavior, we believe our washer category would have thrived like the rest of our North American business. Whirlpool, along with our Clyde employees, is taking this action because U.S. manufacturers and workers need comprehensive trade relief that Samsung and LG cannot circumvent. The safeguard petition allows for the effective application and enforcement of trade rules that are critical to maintaining jobs and supporting free and fair competition in the United States.”
More than 2,000 employees from Whirlpool Corp.’s washer manufacturing facility in Clyde, Ohio, signed on to the formal petition to emphasize the importance of enforcing trade laws to preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs.
In 2013, the U.S. Government found that Samsung and LG were unlawfully dumping South Korean and Mexican washers into the United States. The two companies responded by moving washer production to China. Earlier this year, the U.S. Government issued a new antidumping order against Samsung and LG in China. But several months before the government issued its ruling, Samsung and LG stockpiled product in the United States and again moved washer production – this time to factories in Vietnam and Thailand – in order, Whirlpool said, “to do another end run around the U.S. trade laws and continue their injurious behavior.”
More information about the issue is available at WhirlpoolCorp.com/fair-trade.
Whirlpool is the No. 1 appliance manufacturer in the world, with $21 billion in annual sales, 93,000 employees and 70 manufacturing and technology research centers in 2016. The company markets Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Consul, Brastemp, Amana, Bauknecht, Jenn-Air, Indesit and other major names in nearly every country throughout the world. More than 80 percent of the products sold by Whirlpool Corp. in the United States are assembled in the United States. Whirlpool has about 25,000 U.S. workers, with 15,000 of those jobs being held by manufacturing workers in its nine U.S. production plants.