Trump administration’s new tariff could spell trouble for SC’s newest manufacturer

(WIS) - The Trump administration has announced its approval of tariffs on imported residential washing machines - and it could spell trouble for the newly opened Samsung plant in Newberry.

The announcement also included a tariff on solar panels.

In all, there will be a 30 percent tariff on solar panels, which will decrease over four years. For imported washing machines, the tariff will be 20 percent in year 1 on 1.2 million units of imported washers, 18 percent in year 2 and 16 percent in year 3. In year 1, all subsequent imports of finished washers will be 50 percent.

You can see the full breakdown of the tariffs here.

Whirlpool, who proposed the tariffs and is a major Samsung competitor, believes the government should penalize the company's existing imports of washers from South Korea, where Samsung is based.

Recommendations were made by the U.S. trade representative in consultation with the Trade Policy Commission with findings from the independent and bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission, who believes the increased import of these items is detrimental to U.S. manufacturers.

The U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, praised the administration's desire to protect American workers with this tariff.

"Based on this information, the Trade Policy Committee developed recommendations, which the President has accepted," Lighthizer said in a statement. "The President's action makes clear again that the Trump Administration will always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses in this regard."

The new tariff on washing machines, in particular, could hurt the new Samsung plant in Newberry. The plant recently opened to great fanfare with 1,000 jobs in the area.

Danielle Meister Cohen, a corporate spokesperson for Samsung, released a statement Monday saying: "Today's announcement is a great loss for American consumers and workers. This tariff is a tax on every consumer who wants to buy a washing machine. Everyone will pay more, with fewer choices."

"Samsung greatly appreciates the support of the many South Carolina and other officials who have advocated on our behalf. We already have hired more than 600 U.S. workers at our new South Carolina factory and we began U.S. production of our high-quality washing machines on January 12th. Consumers are choosing Samsung premium washing machines for their innovation and design."

Governor Henry McMaster, Rep. Ralph Norman, and others have previously expressed concern about the trade penalties and how they could affect one of the state's biggest economic development projects.

Bryan Symmes, a spokesperson for Gov. Henry McMaster's office, released a statement, saying: "The governor is obviously disappointed with the decision. As he has said time and time again, when it comes to fighting for South Carolina jobs and businesses, he's going to do it at each and every opportunity – for companies already here and those looking to locate here."

You can find more information on this fact sheet from the U.S. Trade Representative's website:

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