SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korean washing machine manufacturers Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics on Thursday (Jan 18) expressed dismay at US President Donald Trump's latest remarks describing the Korean firms as "dumping washers into the US".
Trump's comments came a few days after Samsung started operating its washing machine plant in South Carolina on Saturday, as part of its efforts to localise its products in the US amid an antidumping battle and tariff pressures.
In an interview with Reuters, Trump said on Wednesday that "South Korea is destroying what was once a good job-producing business", referring to the US washing machine industry.
He emphasised that the Korean companies are "dumping washing machines into the US".
Song Dae Hyun, president of LG's home appliances and air solutions unit, said during a press conference for the company's 2018 air conditioners on Thursday: "LG has no reason to dump products, because we are making premium products."
"Due to strong restrictions by the US government already, Korean firms have no room to dump," he said.
"However, we are bracing for any decision on the safeguard issue."
Bewilderment and disappointment were felt across the industry, as some company officials interpreted Trump's comments as his determination to impose a safeguard measure on washing machines by the Korean manufacturers, which is scheduled to be announced by Feb 2.
In November, the US International Trade Commission made a recommendation to the Trump administration to impose a 50 per cent tariff rate on large residential washer imports by Samsung and LG that exceed a quota of 1.2 million units for a duration of three years, in addition to current duty rates.
The recommendation was made in response to a safeguard petition filed by US-based Whirlpool in May.
In an apparent effort to avoid such a penalty, Samsung and LG had moved forward their schedules to kick off production of their washing machines in the US.
Samsung opened the New Berry plant just six months after breaking ground, while LG is also rushing to start operations of its factory in Tennessee by the end of the year.
Samsung's US$380 million facility is expected to annually produce 1 million washing machines and create over 1,000 jobs.
"If the US does impose the sanction, the Korean firms' positions in the US market would be hurt, and their product facilities in the US may also be influenced as sales are likely to slow," said an industry official who declined to be identified.
Samsung did not make official comments in response to the US president's remark.