By Andrew Tangel
U.S. trade regulators ruled Tuesday that Whirlpool Corp.'s South Korean rivals unfairly harmed the Michigan-based appliance maker by selling washing machines in the U.S. at artificially low prices.
The decision will allow the U.S. Department of Commerce to continue imposing tariffs on large residential washing machines that Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. manufacture in China. Whirlpool first complained in 2015 that LG and Samsung were selling washing machines in the U.S. for less than they cost to produce, a tactic known as "dumping."
"This is a gratifying win for American manufacturing, particularly our more than 3,000 employees at our factory in Clyde, Ohio, who make clothes washers for American consumers," said Whirlpool Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Fettig.
But the company has acknowledged the tariffs will likely have a limited effect because LG and Samsung have shifted production of U.S.-bound washing machines out of China, the only country affected by the ruling.
Samsung and LG have acknowledged they are producing washing machines in Vietnam and Thailand. LG said it was disappointed with the ruling and disputed the U.S. International Trade Commission's findings.
"LG's success in the home laundry segment in the United States has been the result of its world-class innovations and commitment to providing U.S. consumers with state-of-the-art washers," the company said.
A Samsung spokeswoman said the company likewise disagreed with Tuesday's decision and that it respects U.S. trade rules. "We remain committed to fair competition and delivering premium products to U.S. consumers," the Samsung spokeswoman said.
The Commerce Department said in December it would impose "antidumping" margins of 52.51% for Samsung and 32.12% for LG for their washing machines imported from China. In such cases, the Commerce Department investigates the trade complaints and imposes duties that continue as long as the trade commission finds that domestic companies such as Whirlpool were unfairly harmed by the imports in question.
Whirlpool executives told trade officials that competing against the artificially cheap products created operating losses and prompted them to forego investments in innovations and hold off on hiring additional workers.
Whirlpool shares were up about 1.2% to $183.70 in recent Tuesday trading.
Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 10, 2017 19:08 ET (00:08 GMT)
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