BENTON HARBOR — Stock in Whirlpool Corp. (NYSE: WHR), the world’s largest appliance maker based in Benton Harbor, jumped 2.5 percent Tuesday after a decision by the Trump administration to slap a tariff of up to 50 percent on imported washing machines.
Whirlpool has complained repeatedly about foreign manufacturers dumping their products in the United States below their true cost in an attempt to gain market share.
The tariff, effective for three years, covers finished large residential washers and parts imported from all countries, including South Korea, where the Samsung and LG brands are based.
“This announcement caps nearly a decade of litigation and will result in new manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee,” Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said in a press release. “This is a victory for American workers and consumers alike. By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts, enabled new manufacturing jobs here in America and will usher in a new era of innovation for consumers everywhere.”
Whirlpool Corp. added 200 new full-time positions at its manufacturing plant in Clyde, Ohio, in anticipation of increased demand following a safeguard remedy decision. The new hires are just the beginning of increased investments in innovation, manufacturing and additional manufacturing jobs for Whirlpool and its vendors.
Additional details are available on the website of the U.S. Trade Representative, htps://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/january/president-trump-approves-relief-us).
Today’s announcement from the White House is the culmination of litigation that began in 2011, when Whirlpool filed its first anti-dumping petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC voted unanimously in all three cases brought by Whirlpool that imports by Samsung and LG injured American workers and manufacturers.
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. In early 2017, the government issued a new antidumping order against Samsung and LG for washers made in China. Even before the government established those penalties, the two companies stockpiled washers in the U.S. and immediately moved production to Vietnam and Thailand when the penalties took effect. In May 2017, Whirlpool filed a safeguard petition with the ITC to end this pattern of serial country-hopping to circumvent trade orders. In October 2017, the ITC voted unanimously that increased large-residential washer imports have been (or threaten to be) a substantial cause of serious injury to the U.S. washer industry. In December 2017, the ITC provided its remedy recommendations to the president.
Not surprisingly, some of the nations involved in the dispute were less than pleased with the U.S. decision. According to the business news site SeekingAlpha.com, China called the tariffs “an abuse,” South Korea said it would file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, and Mexico said it would use all legal means at its disposal to ensure the U.S. meets its international obligations.