U.S. Recommends Tariffs of Up to 50% on Washing-Machine Imports -- 2nd Update

Federal trade regulators recommended that the Trump administration impose big tariffs on imported washing machines to protect Whirlpool Corp. and other U.S. manufacturers.

Members of the U.S. International Trade Commission, a bipartisan agency that oversees trade, on Tuesday released three sets of recommendations that include tariffs of 50% on imported washers exceeding a quota of 1.2 million units annually. Their recommendations follow their finding in October that Whirlpool and other domestic washer makers suffered "serious injury" from a surge of imports.

The trade commission's recommendations are expected to head to the White House in early December. The Trump administration would then have about two months to weigh the recommendations and decide what, if any, new trade barriers to put in place. The recommendations aren't binding.

The washer case is the latest in a series of trade fights between Whirlpool and two South Korean competitors, LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said U.S. officials are reviewing the commissioners' recommendations. "The president will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States," she said.

Whirlpool said it is encouraged by the trade body's recommendations. Samsung and LG both said any new trade barriers could limit consumer choice, increase prices and stifle U.S. job growth.

South Korea's Trade Ministry said Wednesday it would consider filing a formal complaint to the World Trade Organization if the Trump administration acts in line with the recommendation. The tariff, if applied, would "deal a big blow" to South Korean exporters, it said.

The Trade Ministry in Seoul said after discussions with Samsung and LG that it would cooperate with Vietnam and other washer exporters to fight any possible U.S. violations of WTO rules.

Kwanwoo Jun in Seoul contributed to this article.

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com and William Mauldin at william.mauldin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 22, 2017 05:19 ET (10:19 GMT)