Keeping to another campaign promise, President Trump imposed tariffs on imports of residential washing machines and solar panel technology to crack down on trading partners that hurt U.S. manufacturers.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the president agreed to levy a 20 percent tariff on washing machines and a 30 percent tariff on solar cells and modules in the Section 201 case.
“The ITC found that U.S. producers had been seriously injured by imports and made several recommendations to the president,” Lighthizer said in a statement.
“The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard,” he said.
For washers, the president approved a safeguard tariff-rate quota for three years starting with a 20 percent rate in the first on the first 1.2 million units. A tariff of 18 percent will apply in the second year and 16 percent in final year of action on washers from all countries except Canada.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) called the decision “welcome news for the thousands of Whirlpool workers in Clyde, Ohio, whose jobs have been threatened by a surge of cheap washers.”
“These tariffs will help level the playing field, and show anyone who tries to cheat our trade laws that they won’t get away with it,” said Brown who spoke with Lighthizer before the decision was announced.
But the penalties on washing machines fell short of what Brown fellow Ohio Sen. Rob Portman (R), who have worked for years on the washer case, had asked the Trump administration to impose.
Portman and Brown (D) had been urging the White House to apply a 50 percent tariff on washer imports, saying in a recent letter to Lighthizer that the U.S. International Trade Commission’s recommendation for zero to 20 percent duties on the first 1.2 million units “is insufficient at curbing the flood of unfair washing machine imports that we have seen for years.”
“We believe a 50 percent tariff on all imports will go a long way to slowing the flow of these unfair products,” Portman and Brown wrote.
Since 2012, Ohio’s senators have fought for the Whirlpool plant in Ohio they say was hurt by washing machine imports by Samsung and LG.
“This announcement caps nearly a decade of litigation and will result in new manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee,” said Whirlpool Chairman Jeff Fettig in a statement to The Hill.
“This is a victory for American workers and consumers alike,” Fettig said.
But Samsung called the decision “a great loss for American consumers and workers.”
“This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices,” a Samsung spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
Samsung began U.S. production of washing machines on Jan. 12 at its new South Carolina plant.
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January 23rd, 2018