- The Washington Times - Monday, January 22, 2018

President Trump announced his first major trade action on Monday, imposing tariffs on washing machines and solar products in a move to protect U.S. manufacturers from cheap imports from China and other countries, the administration said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Mr. Trump accepted recommendations from USTR for tariffs after “an exhaustive process” to determine whether U.S. manufacturers were being harmed by imported washing machines and solar products.

The announcement comes after Mr. Trump campaigned heavily on a promise to get tough with unfair competition from foreign manufacturers.

“The president’s action makes clear again that the Trump administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses in this regard,” Mr. Lighthizer said.

Mr. Trump approved tariffs, or taxes, for the next four years on foreign-made solar panels, most of which come from China. He is calling for a 30-percent levy on imported solar panels in the first year; the level of tariffs will decline over the following three years.

For imported washing machines, Mr. Trump approved a combined tariff and quota for three years. In the first year, the first 1.2 million imported washing machines will be slapped with a tariff of 20 percent, while all subsequent imports will be hit with a 50 percent tariff.

In 2011, Whirlpool filed a petition with the Department of Commerce, contending that washer imports from South Korea and Mexico were dumped and subsidized as part of an “aggressive downward pricing strategy” by LG and Samsung.

“By 2016, the domestic producers were running multimillion dollar net operating losses,” the USTR’s office said.

The decision comes after the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that imports of solar panels and washers had hurt U.S. companies.

The move didn’t sit well with some Republican lawmakers who promote free trade.

“Here’s something Republicans used to understand: Tariffs are taxes on families,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican. “Moms and dads shopping on a budget for a new washing machine will pay for this — not big companies. You don’t fix eight years of bad energy policy with bad trade policy.”

Vote Solar, a nonprofit advocacy group, called it a “job-killing tariff” on the solar industry.

“This misguided decision to impose tariffs on solar products will negatively impact thousands of workers who depend on solar to support their families, and it will hurt American competitiveness in the global economy,” said Adam Browning, the group’s executive director.



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