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New tariffs pushed on foreign washing machines and solar panels

Electrolux is planning to fight tariffs imposed on washing machines

The Trump administration announced plans in January to impose new taxes on washing machines and solar panels manufactured abroad — and Swedish home appliances company Electrolux is pledging to fight these tariffs.

On Wednesday, Electrolux noted that it had been officially informed by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) of a final tariff rate of 72.41 percent on washing machines imported into the U.S. from Mexico between February 2016 and January 2017. The company plans on contesting this decision “vigorously.”

“It is Electrolux’s position that the DOC set this tariff rate by improperly citing, as the basis for this decision, a failure on behalf of Electrolux to submit data in a timely manner,” the company said in a statement. Furthermore, the company is asserting that the DOC decision does not have legal merit, as the department did not “provide Electrolux actual notice of the relevant documents or the necessary time frame for response.”

Consequently, the company is now planning on appealing the DOC’s decision.

The January tax announcement, which came from the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was meant to take aim at South Korean washing machine manufacturers and Chinese solar panel producers. The administration says these companies have been selling their goods in the United States for less than their fair market value.

As a result of a report by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the U.S. will now impose duties of up to 30 percent on solar equipment manufactured abroad. Such a move could damage the $28 billion solar energy industry. Eighty percent of the parts used in the U.S. solar industry are imported, and the Solar Energy Industries Association previously projected job losses in the tens of thousands amid months of uncertainty about tax hikes.

Meanwhile, washing machines made by South Korean manufacturers Samsung and LG were deemed “a substantial cause of serious injury” to U.S. manufacturers in the ITC report. In the first year, those products will face a 20 percent tariff on the initial 1.2 million washers imported, and a 50 percent tariff on all machines after that. Those tariffs will eventually decrease to 16 and 40 percent, respectively, in three years.

Samsung, understandingly, is also unhappy by the recent announcement, which is in part the product of a Whirlpool complaint made against the South Korean companies.

A Samsung spokesperson told CNET, “Today’s announcement is 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.”

Ironically, the company announced the opening of its first manufacturing plant in the United States in 2017, in Newberry, South Carolina. Its planned output? Washing machines.

The ITC report targets Chinese solar panel manufacturers nearly nine months after Suniva and SolarWorld, based in China and Germany, respectively, claimed that low-cost Chinese manufacturers were unfairly competing.

Time reports that the increased tariffs may be challenged by China and South Korea at the World Trade Organization, which has previously refused U.S.-imposed tariffs. The solar industry may also attempt to appeal the tariffs to Congress, though success in that appeal is thought to be unlikely.

“Trump wants to show he’s tough on trade, so whatever duties or quotas he imposes will stick, whatever individual senators or congressmen might say,” Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Time via email.

Updated on March 15, 2018: Electrolux will fight the tariffs imposed on washing machines. 

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