US tariffs to wash out local imports

Washing machines and solar panels manufactured in Vietnam and exported to the US will be slapped with new US tariffs, a concern to manufacturers who still plan to keep their investments in the country on track.

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The move came in response to petitions from American manufacturers, who have complained for years that rising imports were eating into their sales. It may signal the start of a wider administrative offensive against US trading partner

US President Donald Trump’s government imposed tariffs of 30% on solar panels, which will gradually fall by half after four years. Those tariffs were less severe than what had been requested by Suniva and SolarWorld, the two US companies that sought the government’s aid in the matter.

In 2017, the US Department of Commerce levied new tariffs on washing machines arriving in the US from China, only to see Samsung and LG shift again, this time to Thailand and Vietnam, which over the past two years have become the biggest exporters of washing machines to the US.

In the case of washing machines, Trump’s government acted in response to a petition from Whirlpool, which complained about low-cost competition from rivals Samsung and LG.

An official of Samsung Vietnam said that there is no change for washing machine facilities in Vietnam, stressing that Samsung will keep making efforts to manufacture the best products to meet global demands.

However, both Samsung and LG announced plans last year to open new factories in the US. Samsung’s facility in Newberry, South Carolina, has already begun initial production. LG’s plant in Clarksville, Tennessee, is scheduled to begin turning out new washing machines in 2019.

Last week, US firm First Solar held a welcoming ceremony to receive the first equipment for manufacturing its latest, high-tech Series 6 photovoltaic modules at Southeast Industrial Zone in Ho Chi Minh City.

In a press release, First Solar Vietnam’s managing director, Chan See Chong, emphasised the new facility’s role in the company’s future plans. “As First Solar launches its new Series 6 module, we are proud to have the two newest manufacturing facilities here in Vietnam. This demonstrates our company’s confidence that Vietnam will be instrumental in meeting our goals,” Chong said.

Mike Koralewski, senior vice president for global module manufacturing, expressed the company’s commitment to manufacturing in Vietnam.

“First Solar has pulled forward our manufacturing plans for the initial factory and recently committed to a second factory here in the industrial zone,” Koralewski said. 

“We have strong customer demand for our new Series 6 product and our investment in Vietnam is a critical component of our future success. We have full confidence in our local team’s ability to bring these factories to life and make an immediate contribution as we strive to lead the world’s sustainable energy future,"


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