Business World

Monday 21 January 2019

Trump puts America First with tariffs

US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

David Lawder

US President Donald Trump has slapped steep tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels - boosting Whirlpool and dealing a setback to the renewable energy industry in the first of several potential trade restrictions.

The decisions in the two 'Section 201' safeguard cases followed findings by the US International Trade Commission that both imported products "are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers", said US trade representative Robert Lighthizer.

The washer tariffs exceeded the harshest recommendations from ITC members, while the solar tariffs were lower than domestic producers had hoped for.

The restrictions aim to help domestic manufacturers but drew complaints that consumer costs for new washers and solar installations will rise.

Mr Trump will impose a 20pc tariff on the first 1.2 million imported large residential washers in the first year, and a 50pc tariff on machines above that number.

The tariffs decline to 16pc and 40pc respectively in the third year.

A 30pc tariff will be imposed on imported solar cells and modules in the first year, with the tariffs declining to 15pc by the fourth year. The tariff allows 2.5 gigawatts of unassembled solar cells to be imported tariff-free in each year.

Whirlpool, which sought the washers 'safeguard' action against rivals Samsung and LG after years of anti-dumping cases, saw its shares rise 1.8pc in after-hours trade.

"By enforcing our existing trade laws, President Trump has ensured American workers will compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts," Whirlpool chairman Jeff Fettig said. (Reuters)


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