In a story being reported via many sources, but here taken from the Wall Street Journal, Whirlpool is taking more action to protect itself from unfair practices.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “Whirlpool Corp. said Thursday it’s considering a new offensive against foreign-made household appliances that it maintains are being sold in the U.S. for less than the cost to manufacturer them.
Whirlpool’s previous trade complaints have targeted refrigerators and washing machines from Korea and Mexico. But the company said Thursday that unfairly discounted appliances are now flowing into the U.S. market from China, Thailand and possibly other Asian countries.
“The marketplace has changed and gotten worse. More countries are involved,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Fettig during an interview Thursday.
The U.S. Court of International Trade earlier this month upheld Whirlpool’s appeal of a 2012 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission that said domestic manufacturers of refrigerators of refrigerators with bottom-mounted freezers weren’t harmed by imports from Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. between 2008 and 2011.
Whirlpool wanted tariffs levied on the refrigerators after alleging that they were sold for less than the cost of making them in Mexico and Korea. The company also accused the Korean government of unfairly subsidizing production of the refrigerators.
Rather than pursuing a rehearing of that case, Mr. Fettig said the company may file a new, separate case with expanded evidence. Mr. Fettig declined to provide specifics about the strategy, but added “we believe there are faster vehicles available to us to both monitor and address trade issues that we see in United States.” LG and Samsung did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
Whirlpool, the world’s largest appliance seller whose brands include Maytag, Amana and KitchenAid, prevailed in convincing the U.S. Commerce Department in 2012 that Samsung, LG and Electrolux were selling large residential washing machines in the U.S. at unfairly low prices. But Whirpool’s complaints do not appear to have discouraged appliance makers from continuing to offer steep discounts on appliances. Analysts reported that discounts were used extensively throughout the recently concluded holiday shopping season to drive appliance sales.
Whirlpool, the world’s largest seller of household appliances, has focused on margin expansion and the introduction of high-value innovations on appliances, while largely refraining from margin-busting discounts. As a result, some analysts believe Whirlpool is losing share in the U.S. appliance market where it has traditionally dominated.”
Whirlpool A Microcosm Of US Manufacturing Struggles
I have personally seen the lengths to which certain companies will go to in attempting to steal the advantage from a competitor. I watched company rep’s scan the floor of houseware shows in search of illegal copies of their patent protected designs. While trying to interact with buyers and the press at these events, they must also ward off spies wearing cameras and recording devices in attempts to steal and copy.
The type of behavior that is affecting Whirlpool is much deeper than illegal copying, though that is part of it. The use of near slave labor and government subsidies to undercut a company while stealing market share goes beyond the pale and truly represents the worst type of behavior.
To some extent we in America are actually playing a role in helping this wrong. While I have no problem with people seeking out the best deal possible when buying houseware goods, we need to understand that incredibly low prices come at great cost. Not only do the workers in these countries often suffer through incredibly low pay and poor working conditions, but in Whirlpool’s case, these advantages are hurting American jobs.
This competition puts pressure on American companies, like Whirlpool, to begin to slide away from the traditions of manufacturing in the USA. The world is a complex place and our purchasing decisions go a long way to determining the future of our country. If we always seek the cheapest option, we ultimately hurt ourselves.