Portman Testifies Before ITC, Fights to Protect Ohio Jobs from Unfair Foreign Trade

December 7, 2016 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) to fight on behalf of Ohio workers and against unfair trade practices. Specifically, Portman, who has a lengthy record of delivering results for Ohio workers, is fighting to protect Whirlpool and its 10,000 Ohio workers, including the more than 3,000 workers at Whirlpool’s largest American factory in Clyde, Ohio, from unlawful dumping of clothes washers into the United States.  

In 2012, the ITC heeded Portman’s concerns that South Korean companies were engaging in unlawful dumping of clothes washers into the U.S. Following the ruling, however, South Korean manufacturers moved their washer production facilities to China, skirting the order and continuing to dump its products unfairly into the United States. The Commerce Department recently issued a preliminary ruling confirming that South Korean manufacturers continue to engage in unlawful dumping of clothes washers into the U.S., an issue that Senator Portman argues violates our trade laws:

“I want to thank you for making the right decision in that case regarding Korea and finding material injury. But before your final determination was even reached in that case, Samsung and LG were already moving their production to China.  Free of duties that the Commission had imposed on the washers coming from Korea, they continued to target the U.S. market and have continued to undermine Whirlpool’s investments in American plants and American jobs. That’s what makes the case before you today so clear –– you have the very same producers and the very same model numbers from the prior case and the only change is their label of ‘Made in Korea’ to ‘Made in China.’ The outcome of this case should be the same as the outcome in the first.”

Senator Portman’s prepared testimony can be found below:

Testimony of Senator Rob Portman

Before the United States International Trade Commission

Hearing on Large Residential Washers from China

December 7, 2016 

Chairman Williamson, Vice-Chairman Johanson, and Members of the Commission.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning as you consider the petition filed by Whirlpool Corporation for antidumping duties on large residential washers imported from China.  

I also want to thank my Congressional colleagues from Ohio, Senator Brown and Congressman Tiberi, and especially the many Ohioans who travelled all the way from Clyde, Ohio, who are here in the room.  I’m told that there are 52 employees from the Clyde plant here today, and the only reason there aren’t a couple hundred more is that 52 is all the bus would fit!  Their attendance here today shows the pride they have in what they make and what they do.

These are just some of the more than 3,000 workers employed at the Clyde facility, and the more than 10,000 Whirlpool employees in my home state of Ohio.  Whirlpool is not the only washing machine manufacturer in and around Ohio: Staber produces in Groveport and GE is operating just across the border in Kentucky.  These are important American companies that provide jobs, benefits, and livelihoods to families in our local communities.                                      

I’ve visited the Clyde plant, and I’ve seen firsthand the work that these Ohioans do. It is a top-notch facility that produces a world class product efficiently.  They’ve invested in innovation, including energy efficiency. Every four seconds one of these high quality washers comes off the assembly line. While autonomous vehicles are still in the testing phase in most places, you can see more than 60 buzzing around the Clyde plant’s floor, where they’re helping to produce washers faster and more efficiently than ever. 

But it’s not just a washing machine plant; it’s an integral part of the fabric of the community. Plant manager Dan O’Brien tells us – and he’s here today, so he can tell you, too – that a study they did in 2014 showed that a third of the jobs in Sandusky County are in some way connected to the Clyde plant, whether they be suppliers, restaurants, or schools.  Seventy percent of the County’s United Way funds come from the Clyde plant.  The Clyde plant is family, in some cases literally: more than ten percent of the workforce work at the plant with relatives, and some families have four generations who have worked there.

So today we’re not just talking about one factory, but an entire community.

Nearly four years ago, I testified to you in another case affecting Whirlpool.  At that time, Whirlpool told you that it was in the process of repatriating its production and bringing good paying jobs back home, bringing jobs to America from countries like Mexico and Germany.  Whirlpool kept its promise. They are investing in America and in Ohio in particular.  The company placed its faith in the marketplace and in America and the notion that if you made a high-quality, competitive product that consumers want to buy, and you price it fairly, your investments will pay off. 

I want to thank you for making the right decision in that case regarding Korea and finding material injury. But before your final determination was even reached in that case, Samsung and LG were already moving their production to China.  Free of duties that the Commission had imposed on the washers coming from Korea, they continued to target the U.S. market and have continued to undermine Whirlpool’s investments in American plants and American jobs. 

That’s what makes the case before you today so clear –– you have the very same producers and the very same model numbers from the prior case and the only change is their label of “Made in Korea” to “Made in China.” The outcome of this case should be the same as the outcome in the first.

These washers continue to be dumped in significant volumes in the U.S. market. Faced with having to sell at fair value and potentially lose business, Samsung and LG moved to China.  A few months ago, the Commerce Department found dumping up to 111 percent.  Both companies picked up their production and moved to other countries.  Today, these duty evaders continue to sell underpriced washers in the United States.

Years ago, Congress added the critical circumstances provision to the antidumping statute to deal with this type of behavior.  Retroactive duty liability was authorized to stop companies from moving to a different country and rapidly shipping large volumes of merchandise to the United States in advance of a preliminary determination from the Commerce Department.  The application of retroactive duty liability may be the only remedy available to the American industry in this particular case. 

I’ve visited dozens of manufacturing centers across Ohio, and many workers have told me that they’re skeptical about our ability to police unfair trade. They’re worried.  This concern is the reason my colleague Senator Brown and I wrote and passed the Leveling the Playing Field Act to give this Commission the tools to find material injury in these types of cases.  Leveling the Playing Field expressly put into the AD/CVD statute that workers should not have to be laid off or plants shuttered before the Commission finds material injury.  I urge the Commission to pay close attention to these new provisions when deciding this case.    

I’m here today because this case is critical to families and communities in Ohio, and to securing future investment and job creation by companies like Whirlpool.  They’re doing the right thing and investing in our country, but I am concerned that, if we don’t protect them from unfair trade, they will no longer be able to do so.

I want to thank the Commission once again for examining this case closely. My experience as a former United States Trade Representative and as a United States Senator from one of the top manufacturing states in the country is that this Commission has been able to look at these cases objectively and apply the law fairly and evenhandedly.  I want to thank you again for the opportunity to appear before you and speak up on behalf of these Ohio workers whose livelihoods are under attack by unfair imports. Thank you.

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