Otherwise disparate voices in the two major political parties are seemingly unified on one score — a newfound skepticism of free trade. It’s difficult to find a more counterproductive issue on which to agree. America’s essential embrace of free trade over the centuries has been an enduring source of strength and economic expansion.
Many have rightly criticized Donald Trump’s proposed 45% tariff on Chinese and Mexican goods. For American families hoping to buy certain top-tier washing machines, however, the tax is already here. In a preliminary ruling last summer, the Commerce Department slapped a 111% tax on imports of Samsung’s best clothes washers and a 48% tax on LG’s nicest models.
In December, Commerce reduced Samsung’s tax to 52%, but the point remains. The case now proceeds to the International Trade Commission for the “injury phase,” where the ITC will try to tease out the complex economics of the industry to judge whether U.S. firms are being unfairly harmed. But first a little background.
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The charge from Commerce is that Samsung and LG are “dumping” the smart-washers in the U.S. at below market prices, thus hurting rival Whirlpool, which brought the complaint. Dumping is a common charge by firms facing import competition.