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Whirlpool Hurt by Korean, Mexican Washer Imports, Panel Says

Whirlpool Corp. is being harmed by imports of large, residential washing machines made in South Korea and Mexico, a U.S. panel ruled in the first step toward imposing tariffs on the products.

The U.S. International Trade Commission voted 4-1 today in Washington on Whirlpool’s petition for anti-dumping duties on LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. shipments, saying sales of the products below fair value are harming the Benton Harbor, Michigan-based company.

The commission is scheduled to release the results of its investigation by February 2013. The U.S. Commerce Department, which is conducting its own investigation, is scheduled to issue a preliminary decision by midyear on actions to offset any economic harm to U.S. companies.

“Whirlpool Corporation is pleased with the ITC’s preliminary affirmative injury determination,” Kristine Vernier, a company spokeswoman, said.

LG said in a statement that it disagrees with the ITC’s initial determination, and cited the “low threshold” for agency action at the preliminary stage of the review.

Whirlpool Earnings Cited

“We are confident that LG will prevail in the final ITC determination,” Chris Jung, president, home appliances for LG Electronics USA Inc., said in the statement distributed at the meeting.

Samsung released a statement that also predicted failure for Whirlpool’s case. “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,” the company said in an e-mail.

The U.S. imported $1.1 billion of the washers from South Korea and Mexico in 2010, the Commerce Department said on Jan. 20 in a statement. LG is based in Seoul and Samsung’s headquarters are in Suwon, South Korea.

The U.S. uses more than 300 anti-dumping and countervailing duties to protect American-made goods, such as honey and bedroom furniture, from global competition deemed by the Commerce Department to be unfair and damaging to U.S. companies.

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