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Whirlpool Hails U.S. Move On Imports

Mon, 02/13/2012 - 10:10am
The Associated Press

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Whirlpool Corp. said it welcomed a preliminary decision by the government on Friday affirming that Whirlpool and other U.S. appliance makers are being harmed by washing machines imported from South Korea and Mexico.

The 4-1 vote by the U.S. International Trade Commission came in response to a petition that Whirlpool filed in December, asking the government to impose extra duties on washers made by Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. Whirlpool accused the South Korean companies of "dumping" those Korean and Mexican-made appliances in the U.S., or selling products at less than fair value.

The ITC vote means that the Commerce Department will continue to conduct an investigation. The commission said it determined there is "a reasonable indication" that the domestic industry is being harmed by imports of certain large washers intended for home use.

Preliminary determinations on duties are expected within the next four months, the commission said.

Whirlpool, based in Benton Harbor, Mich., is the world's biggest appliance maker. Its brands include its namesake as well as Maytag and KitchenAid. Whirlpool makes clothes washers at a plant in Clyde, Ohio, where it employs more than 3,500 workers.

The ITC vote "validates the actions we've taken to protect the U.S. domestic appliance industry, our 23,000 U.S. employees and the communities in which they work," Whirlpool spokeswoman Kristine Vernier said in a prepared statement.

Samsung's New Jersey-based North American division issued a statement expressing disappointment in the ITC vote.

"As demonstrated by Whirlpool's recent announcement of higher earnings and its continued dominant market share, we disagree that there is any material injury to the domestic washer industry," Samsung said.

Whirlpool on Feb. 1 reported that its fourth-quarter net income rose 20 percent as it increased prices for products in North America, offsetting a drop in demand overseas.

Samsung said that it is "confident that once the full investigation is concluded, it will be determined that Samsung is in compliance with U.S. trade laws."

The ITC said there are six domestic producers of the washers relevant to the petition. Those companies have operations in Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Shares of Whirlpool rose 29 cents to $69.82 in afternoon trading.

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