WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department
on Monday set preliminary anti-dumping duties on about $1
billion worth of residential washing machines from Mexico and
South Korea in a case brought by American manufacturer
The department estimated Mexico manufacturers were selling
the washers in the United States at prices 33.30 percent to
72.41 percent below fair value. It said South Korean producers
were undercutting prices by 9.62 percent to 82.41 percent.
In an odd twist, one of the two Mexican manufacturers hit
with the 72.41 percent preliminary duty was Whirlpool itself.
Whirlpool said in a statement it has stopped shipping
washers from Mexico for sale in the United States and therefore
would not face any duties.
The company said it has made significant investments at its
Clyde, Ohio plant and expects nearly 100 percent of the washers
its sells in the United States will be American-made by 2013.
"Whirlpool is committed to building products in the regions
where they are sold and investing in our U.S. manufacturing
presence. Our investments will continue as long as we can
compete on a level playing field, with all of our foreign
competitors playing by the established rules," company
spokeswoman Kristine Vernier said.
U.S. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown hailed the decision,
which he said would help restore a level playing field for the
century-old American manufacturer.
"If we want to encourage companies like Whirlpool to
continue moving jobs back to the U.S., then we also have to get
tough on countries that don't play by the rules," Brown said.
Washers made by Electrolux and Samsung
in Mexico were hit with a preliminary anti-dumping duties of
33.30 percent and 72.41 percent, respectively.
Washers made by Daewoo, LG Electronics
and Samsung in South Korea received preliminary
anti-dumping duties of 82.41 percent, 12.15 percent, and 9.62
Samsung and Electrolux said they disagreed with the decision
and would continue to fight the duties.
In a similar case involving refrigerators from Mexico and
South Korea, the U.S. International Trade Commission struck down
duties imposed by the Commerce Department on the grounds that
Whirlpool was not materially injured by the imports.
Caryn Klebba, a spokeswoman for Electrolux, said its share
of the laundry machine market in the United States was only 5.6
percent compared to Whirlpool's 56 percent, giving the company
hope the ITC would rescue them again.
Samsung said it no longer makes washers in Mexico so it also
would not be affected by those preliminary duties.
Importers have to post bonds or cash deposits based on the
preliminary rates. In Daewoo's case, the required cash deposit
will be slightly less than the preliminary duty rate, the
Commerce Department said.
The United States imported some $434 million of residential
washers from Mexico and $568 million from South Korea in 2011.
The Commerce Department in May also set a preliminary
"countervailing duty" of nearly 71 percent on washers made by
Daewoo in South Korea to offset government subsidies.
LG and Samsung received duties of just 0.22 percent and 1.20
percent, respectively, in that phase of case.
A final decision on both types of duties is expected by the
end of the year.