Government Fails to Help U.S. Manufacturers Once Again


The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) handed down two rulings this week that will result in more damage to U.S. manufacturing. It was determined that “no material damage” was done to U.S. manufacturers in a case regarding refrigerators manufactured in South Korea and Mexico, along with a case regarding steel wheels from China. In both cases, the Commerce Department had previously determined that the imported products in question were illegally subsidized. Free trade advocates claim it creates a level playing field, but that is clearly not the case.

Whirlpool filed an anti-dumping petition in March 2011 alleging that imported refrigerators from South Korean firms LG and Samsung were being sold at below market-prices. The U.S. Commerce Department subsequently found that these firms were beneficiaries of Korean government subsidies, which would usually allow for countervailing duties to be put in place to protect U.S. industries. It is unusual for the USITC to reject an anti-dumping petition when illegal subsidies are involved, but in this case the body ruled that Whirlpool has sustained no damage as a result.

The USITC also determined that U.S. makers of steel wheels have no cause for protections against their Chinese competitors. American companies Accuride Corporation and Maxion Wheels filed a petition for anti-dumping duties, but ended up with a similar outcome to the Whirlpool case. The Commerce Department once again identified foreign subsidies, but the USITC refused to put countervailing duties in place.

These cases show just how broken our free trade system is. Other countries can subsidize their industries, and open our borders to them. Meanwhile, whenever the United States attempts to help one of its domestic industries, we bow to international pressure and remove those protections.  This is not a free system, and it is not a fair system.

Free trade would be bad enough for the United States, but the system we have in place now is incredibly lopsided.  We allow other countries privileges we do not allow ourselves, and we call it a level playing field. A true level playing field can only be found when we are allowed to hold other countries to the same standards we hold ourselves, and to make any adjustments we see fit to maintain that. This is not possible under our current policies. We are heading down a path that will see the American Manufacturing sector completely extinguished unless we do something to stop it.

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