U.S. Launches Safeguard Investigation into Influx of Foreign Washers

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By Bryce Baschuk

The U.S. notified World Trade Organization members that it launched a safeguard investigation that could increase U.S. tariffs on imports of large residential washers.

Whirlpool Corp. requested the investigation and alleged that imports of foreign washers increased from 1.60 million units in 2012 to 3.21 million units in 2016.

The Benton Harbor, Mich.-based manufacturing giant argued that foreign washers are being imported into the U.S. in such increased quantities that they were causing “serious injury” to U.S. companies, according to the notification.

The WTO Agreement on Safeguards permits WTO members to impose temporary tariffs on imports in the face of trade surges that are shown to harm domestic producers.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) began an investigation on June 5 and will make its determination before Oct. 5, according to a WTO notice that circulated on June 13.

Over the past four years the ITC has twice granted relief to U.S. washer manufacturers after finding that the industry was materially injured by imports from foreign producers.

Korea, Mexico Targeted

In recent years the U.S. Commerce Department has imposed stiff antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of foreign washers from Korean companies such as Daewoo Electronics, LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

Whirlpool claims that LG and Samsung were able to skirt U.S. antidumping duties on washers from Korea and Mexico by moving their production to China.

Whirlpool’s latest complaint argues that the foreign companies were engaged in “serial dumping” practices that moved their production to multiple third countries during ongoing antidumping investigations.

Korean Retaliation Pending

If granted, the safeguard investigation could provide alternative relief to Whirlpool at a time when the Trump administration is mulling revisions to the way it calculates antidumping duties against Korea.

In 2016 the WTO ruled against the U.S. Commerce Department’s use of targeted dumping and zeroing methodologies in antidumping investigations related to imports of Korean washers.

Though U.S. trade officials disagreed with the ruling, a WTO arbitrator recently said the Commerce Department must modify its antidumping and countervailing duties against three Korean appliance companies before Dec. 26 or face the prospect of Korean retaliation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bryce Baschuk in Geneva at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

For More Information

The WTO announcement is available at https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/news17_e/safe_usa_10jun17_e.htm.

The U.S. notification is available at http://src.bna.com/pOI.

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