WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today testified on behalf of 3,000 Ohio Whirlpool workers at the International Trade Commission (ITC), which will determine whether cheap washing machine imports from China have unfairly hurt the domestic washer industry. Today’s hearing will help the ITC make its final determination in the case.
In Sen. Brown’s testimony, he urged the ITC to make a favorable determination to ensure that antidumping duties will be applied to Chinese washer imports. He also urged the ITC to address the respondents’ decision to move production to Vietnam and Thailand to avoid paying antidumping duties. Samsung stockpiled washers in the U.S. in anticipation of the antidumping duties, and both Samsung and LG have moved production to Vietnam and Thailand. In October, Brown wrote to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, along with Sen. Portman, asking Pritzker to address this pattern of serial dumping and duty evasion.
“These Whirlpool workers know what good manufacturing jobs do for their local economy and how crucial those jobs are to supporting their families. Their presence at this hearing reminds us why enforcing our trade laws is so important,” Brown said in testimony delivered at ITC today. “We fight for fair trade because we want to make sure our manufacturers and our workers are able to compete on a level playing field. That’s what today’s hearing is ultimately about: protecting middle class manufacturing jobs and defeating foreign competitors’ efforts to close our factories.”
As a result of an antidumping petition filed by Whirlpool in 2012, the Commerce Department imposed duties on Samsung and LG’s washing imports from Korea and Mexico. The companies have since moved their production to China and continue to export washing machines to the U.S. market at unfairly traded prices. These imports from China are the subject of Whirlpool’s current case.
Whirlpool employs a total of 10,000 workers in Ohio at facilities in Clyde, Findlay, Marion, Ottawa, and Greenville.
Full text of Sen. Brown’s testimony, as prepared for delivery, is available below.
Testimony of Senator Sherrod Brown
U.S. International Trade Commission Hearing on
Large Residential Washers from China
Investigation No. 731-TA-1306
December 7, 2016
Chairman Williamson and members of the Commission, thank you for the opportunity to testify in this case regarding large residential washers from China.
The petitioner, Whirlpool, has 10,000 workers in the Ohio communities of Marion, Findlay, Ottawa, Greenville, and Clyde. They are a company that takes pride in manufacturing things here in America. And they employ 22,000 workers nationwide who take pride in making home appliances.
Home appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and dryers that we all know and recognize because of their high-quality and prominent American flag labels.
Whirlpool has 3,000 employees at their Clyde facility, where they make some of these famous washing machines. I’m pleased that 50 of the Clyde workers are here today. They know that the Commission’s decision in this case could have a big effect on their jobs and their community.
My colleague, Sen. Portman, is also here this morning. We both stand with them in their fight against unfair trade practices.
I offer this testimony on their behalf.
These Whirlpool workers know what good manufacturing jobs do for their local economy and how crucial those jobs are to supporting their families. Their presence at this hearing reminds us why enforcing our trade laws is so important.
We fight for fair trade because we want to make sure our manufacturers and our workers are able to compete on a level playing field. That’s what today’s hearing is ultimately about: protecting middle class manufacturing jobs and defeating foreign competitors’ efforts to close our factories.
This trade case is an unfortunate sequel to Whirlpool’s first washing machine petition. Four years ago, I testified against unfairly traded washers from Korea and Mexico, which were being dumped into the U.S. market. In that case, the Commission found that the domestic industry had been injured, and duties were applied.
Those duties helped to stem the tide of Korean and Mexican imports, but they didn’t solve the whole problem. That’s why we’re back here today.
Even before the final determination in the last case, Samsung and LG had relocated their factories to China to avoid paying higher duties and promptly resumed dumping into the U.S. market. Facing unfair competition once again, Whirlpool filed another antidumping case.
And here we are, asking the Commission to find for a second time that the domestic industry is being injured by these unfair trade practices designed to put Whirlpool out of business.
There’s plenty of evidence that the U.S. washer sector is being injured, and I’m pleased that your preliminary determination was affirmative. The findings from your preliminary decision are still true, and I hope they will inform your final determination.
As your decision found, the “volume and increase in volume” of washer imports from China are “significant,” and those imports account for a growing share of U.S. consumption. Imports from China have captured “market share from the domestic industry,” and “pervasive underselling” by the foreign respondents has “led to declining prices” for U.S. producers. As a result, the domestic industry’s financial performance has deteriorated.
Based on these findings, I urge you to vote in favor of the domestic industry and make an affirmative final determination.
There is one other issue that the Commission must consider, and that is the critical circumstances in this case. As you know, sometimes foreign competitors will rush to stockpile imports in the U.S. after a trade case has been filed but before duties have been applied.
They do this to avoid paying antidumping duties.
When this happens, a finding of critical circumstances can be made, which allows duties to be applied retroactively for up to 90 days before the preliminary determination. Applying those duties to the stockpiled inventory helps to ensure these duty evasion efforts are not successful.
Critical circumstances exist in this case because Samsung rushed to import a large volume of washers before antidumping duties were applied. Commerce announced preliminary antidumping duties against Samsung and LG on July 20th. Leading up to that date, Chinese washer imports nearly tripled between January and May.
But immediately after Commerce’s preliminary determination, washers from China were imported in very low numbers, and imports from Vietnam and Thailand began to grow quickly. These data reflect the fact that Samsung tried to get as many washers into the U.S. market before they were slapped with antidumping tariffs. And now both companies have moved production out of China.
Samsung and LG intend to continue this behavior until they put Whirlpool out of business. And that’s why the critical circumstances determination is so important.
Duties collected on the surge of imports before Commerce’s determination in July may be the only duties that are collected in this case.
When our foreign competitors do whatever it takes to cheat, we must do whatever it takes to fight back. That’s why I urge you to make an affirmative critical circumstances finding.
If we don’t stop this game of whack-a-mole, these companies will succeed in increasing their share of the U.S. market and make it impossible for our American companies to compete. Whirlpool will continue to struggle against an onslaught of unfairly traded imports, and the workers in Clyde will continue to worry whether they’ll have a job next year.
That’s just not right.
These workers make the best washing machines in the world. Their jobs are the backbone of Clyde. Failure to hold our trading partners accountable and to protect these jobs will threaten the U.S. washer industry, the middle class jobs it creates, and the communities that depend on it.
I received hundreds of letters from Ohioans at the Clyde facility who are concerned about the unfair practices of Samsung and LG. One of those letters was from Vickie. I’ll close with a quote from her letter, because I think it sums this up perfectly.
Vickie writes: “I am proud that U.S. manufacturing creates a way of life for my family, and I hope that way of life will be just as possible and fulfilling for the young people who are growing up in my community.
“We at Whirlpool have the skills and know-how to compete with any product made anywhere in the world, as long as everyone plays by the rules. Foreign competitors, through their unlawful actions, threaten the very U.S. manufacturing jobs that have made our way of life a positive one.”
I think Vickie’s letter captures what’s at stake in your investigation. And I urge you to make an affirmative determination in this case, both on injury and critical circumstances.
The American washer industry is depending on us to fully enforce our trade laws, and Vickie and her colleagues in Clyde deserve no less.