Letter to The Honorable Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, United States Department of Commerce

Letter

By:  Sherrod Brown Debbie Stabenow
Date: Nov. 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are continuing to urge the U.S. Department of Commerce to stand up for manufacturing jobs at Whirlpool and to reject falsified data produced by foreign competitors from South Korea, including Samsung, as it makes a determination in an antidumping investigation. In December 2011, Whirlpool--which is based in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and has its largest American factory in Clyde, Ohio as well as facilities in Marion, Findlay, and Greenville--filed a case with the Commerce Department regarding the dumping of large residential washers, made in South Korea and Mexico, into the U.S. market. These unfairly dumped imports place companies that manufacture their product in America, like Whirlpool, at an unfair disadvantage.

"Companies like Whirlpool can compete with anyone in the world when there is a level playing field," said Brown, who visited Whirlpool's Clyde plant in June 2012. "We're at risk of losing our good-paying manufacturing jobs if we allow our companies to be undermined and undercut by illegal trade practices carried out by our trading partners. The Department of Commerce must reject attempts from Whirlpool's foreign competitors to skew the ongoing trade case, and the agency must be aggressive in investigating the unfair trade practices of these companies. If we want to encourage companies like Whirlpool to continue moving jobs back to the U.S., then we also have to get tough on countries that don't play by the rules."

"We need to be exporting our products, not our jobs. When other countries engage in illegal trade practices, it harms American manufacturers and workers," said Stabenow. "Michigan-based Whirlpool became a global leader in major home appliances through hard work and innovation, and it's critical that Whirlpool and all of our American businesses and workers have a level playing field to compete and win. We need to hold other countries accountable that refuse to play by the rules and crack down on unfair trade practices that undermine our businesses and workers."

Earlier this year, Brown and Stabenow urged the Obama Administration to investigate unfair foreign trade practices and defend manufacturing jobs at the Whirlpool Corporation. The senators, along with Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) sent a letter to the U.S. Commerce Department asking the agency to enforce trade laws that level the playing field for companies like Whirlpool.

"In order to create an environment to encourage [the] repatriation [of jobs], we must ensure that companies that do bring jobs home to the United States, such as Whirlpool, are not handicapped by unfair trade practices perpetrated by their foreign competitors," the senators wrote in the June 2012 letter. "When companies engage in dumping and benefit from unfair foreign government subsidies, it harms American companies and workers and the communities in which they operate."

Brown is the author of the Currency Exchange and Oversight Reform Act, legislation that represents the biggest bipartisan jobs bill--at no cost to U.S. taxpayers--passed by the Senate last year. The legislation would allow the U.S. government to stand up for American jobs when China cheats by manipulating its currency to give its exports an unfair advantage. The full text of the letter to the Commerce Department is below.

The Honorable Paul Piquado

Assistant Secretary for Import Administration

United States Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20230

Dear Assistant Secretary Piquado:

We are writing you in reference to the Commerce Department's ongoing antidumping investigation involving U.S. imports of large residential washers from Korea. In this investigation, Whirlpool has presented the Department with substantial allegations that Samsung submitted falsified data and otherwise tainted the integrity of the Import Administration's antidumping proceedings. These allegations are extremely troubling.

Based on a review of the public record of the proceeding, including the Import Administration's October 17, 2012 verification report, we understand that the Department had considered verification of a particular Samsung-affiliated customer to be "an important component of substantiating [Samsung's] claim that Whirlpool's allegation of fraud by Samsung in this investigation is erroneous and unsupported." However, Samsung reportedly failed to make this affiliated customer available for verification. In its defense, Samsung claims that "it was not affiliated [with the customer] under Korean law and was not in a position to exert control over" the customer. According to the verification report, "the issue is how to treat [the] refusal to allow the Department to complete Section X of the Verification Agenda" for purposes of the final determination.

In adjudicating this matter, we ask that you will bear in mind that the United States Congress -- not the Korean legislature -- defines "affiliated persons" for U.S. antidumping investigations. We trust you will decline Samsung's request to apply Korean law -- instead of U.S. law -- in deciding this important case.

We look forward to reading your final determination, and thank you for your attention to this matter.