Samsung, LG protest U.S. tariffs on washers

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Samsung, LG protest U.S. tariffs on washers

Korean government officials, along with representatives from Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, attended a U.S. International Trade Commission hearing in Washington on Thursday to protest the commission’s recent ruling that Korean washers were hurting American companies.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Friday that the group “aggressively expressed” their stance against import restrictions during the hearing. The trade commission was deliberating on possible safeguard measures against washing machines made by Samsung and LG, which could include tariffs or import quotas.

The commission, based on a petition from American appliance maker Whirlpool, determined on Oct. 5 that imported Samsung and LG washers were harming American manufacturers. Whirlpool requested the U.S. government impose a punitive tariff of 50 percent on Korean washers and parts.

“[Our representatives] emphasized that the 50 percent tariff proposed by Whirlpool goes against the WTO safeguard agreement, which says safeguard measures should be applied ‘only to the extent necessary to prevent or remedy serious injury,’” the Korean Trade Ministry said in a statement.

Several U.S. government officials also testified in favor of Samsung and LG. Ralph Norman, a congressman from South Carolina; Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina; and Bob Rolfe, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, argued that tariffs on Korean washers would adversely affect the economies of both states, where Samsung and LG are building home appliance factories.

LG announced a plan in March to build a $250 million plant in Tennessee that’s scheduled for completion by 2019 and expected to create 600 jobs. Samsung followed in June with a plan to invest $380 million in a new factory in South Carolina, set to begin production in early 2018, with about 1,000 local workers.

“Safeguard measures will eventually harm U.S. consumers and delay the normal operation of the LG plant in the United States currently under construction,” an LG representative said during the hearing. “If the measures go into effect, it will ultimately have an adverse effect on the local economy, including in job creation.”

Samsung representatives concurred, saying the 50 percent tariff on washer parts would hamper the company’s operations in South Carolina.

The trade commission is set to decide on safeguard measures by Nov. 21 and plans to deliver a report to President Donald Trump on Dec. 4.

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