Trump’s tariffs helped Whirlpool in northern Ohio

For nearly 70 years, the Whirlpool plant in Clyde, Ohio, has produced some of the best washing machines in the world. I was proud to recommend to the Trump Administration that the president visit the plant, especially given the successful efforts we have undertaken with President Trump to protect the workforce from unfair foreign trade.

The impact of Whirlpool on the Clyde community is hard to measure. In a town of less than 6,500 residents, Whirlpool employs 3,200 workers. The factory has produced marriages, families, and friendships, and the tax contributions have helped pay for schools, bridges, and roads.

But despite Whirlpool’s deep Ohio roots, the future of its Clyde plant looked bleak up until fairly recently. Foreign competitors had for years been participating in an unfair trade practice known as “dumping,” where their washing machines were sold in the United States at less than it cost to produce. As with any kind of cheating, Whirlpool found it hard to compete.

That’s why, since I got elected to the Senate in 2011, I have joined with Senator Sherrod Brown to successfully level the playing field for Whirlpool’s workers to ensure they can effectively compete with their foreign competitors, including passing legislation and testifying before the International Trade Commission (ITC) four times to combat these unfair foreign trading practices.

However, after we won initial victories in trade cases on dumped and subsidized washers from South Korea and Mexico, Whirlpool’s foreign competitors evaded the tariffs levied by the ITC by moving production to China. And when anti-dumping duties were imposed on those unfairly-traded washing machines from China, production moved again, this time to Thailand and Vietnam.

This whack-a-mole approach to stopping foreign competitors from evading U.S. tariffs by shifting production from country to country was unsustainable, which is why we worked to find a solution that could be enforced regardless of the country of origin. In 2017, I supported Whirlpool’s efforts to secure global tariffs in the form of a Section 201 “safeguard.” In the wake of my testimony, the ITC found increased imports were a substantial cause of serious injury to Whirlpool’s domestic industry.

With approval from the ITC in hand, President Trump took decisive action to protect Whirlpool and its workers at Clyde. President Trump’s decision to impose global tariff-rate quotas on finished washing machines as well as parts has led to a decline in unfairly-traded imports and given Whirlpool a fair chance to compete. These measures have been critical to preserving the thousands of jobs at Clyde, and Whirlpool has taken advantage of this opportunity by investing in new products, in new technology, and in its workers.

Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it an unprecedented economic crisis, putting American jobs and manufacturing at risk as we work to defeat this health care challenge. This is why we need to double down on smart trade and economic policies that we know work — such as those that have benefited Whirlpool’s workers — to ensure that Made in America doesn’t become a memory, but instead becomes an integral part of our post-COVID economic rebound.

Through it all, Whirlpool is an example of how American companies can compete and win when we’re given a fair chance. As we continue to fight for a level playing field for our businesses and their workers, we should look to the success story of Clyde, Ohio. I am glad the president got to see the best washing machines in the world being made and I’m committed to continuing to protect Clyde’s world class workforce from unfair trade.


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