Trump accuses Korea of dumping, stealing jobs

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Trump accuses Korea of dumping, stealing jobs

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday Korea was “dumping washing machines” in the U.S. market, destroying what used to be a “job-producing business,” indicating an intention to approve safeguard measures recommended by a U.S. trade panel two months earlier.

In an interview with Reuters at the White House, the real estate mogul-turned-president reportedly said, “South Korea is dumping washing machines into the United States, destroying what was once a good job-producing business.”

Trump’s remark, which echoes his campaign promise of “America First” trade protectionism, came as he has to decide whether to accept recommendations from the U.S. International Trade Commission in November. Trump needs to decide by Feb. 2.

The commission recommended tariffs of 50 percent on large residential washing machines imported beyond a 1.2 million quota to prevent Samsung and LG products from dominating the U.S. market.

The four-member panel recommended the quota and 50-percent tariff for the first year of the safeguard measure, which would be reduced to 45 percent in the second and 40 percent in the third.

While the panel unanimously agreed on a 50 percent tariff on washers exceeding the annual quota, it was split on new tariffs for machines within the quota.

The Washington-based commission also recommended a 50 percent tariff on imports of parts for such machines over a yearly import quota of 50,000 units. For parts, it recommended the import quota to be raised to 70,000 units in the second year and 90,000 in the third. The commission called for the tariff to fall to 45 percent in the second year and 40 percent in the third.

Trump’s single line comment raised speculation that he will ultimately side with the U.S. trade commission. Trump’s “dumping” remark also echoes a claim made by the Michigan-based Whirlpool, which accused the two Korean companies of dumping washing machines on the U.S. market in a petition filed to the trade commission last May.

The government and the two Korean giant electric makers have countered the safeguard measure proposals by pointing out such the restrictive measures will lead to increased costs and fewer purchasing options for U.S. consumers. LG and Samsung also have emphasized they are building home-appliance manufacturing plants in the United States.

LG is constructing a plant in Tennessee, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year. Samsung began production of washing machines from a South Carolina factory with an annual target production of 1 million units. Samsung plans to invest $380 million in the factory by 2020.

LG rebuked the “dumping” charge, saying its products are premium-level and therefore are not being dumped on the U.S. market.

“We are making premium-level products and therefore have no room for dumping and have not been doing it,” said Song Dae-hyun, Vice-President and Head of H&A Business Division at LG Electronics, before reporters Thursday at LG Twin Towers in western Seoul.

He added the there was no possibility of dumping since the U.S. has put in place “strident anti-dumping regulations,” noting the matter became an issue because of the U.S.’s domestic politics and protectionist policy.

Samsung had not made an official response as of press time.

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