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Why the imported washing machine you want is getting more expensive

Corilyn Shropshire, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

CHICAGO -- At $1,899, one of the priciest washing machines for sale at Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill., is Samsung's two-washers-in-one-machine Steel FlexWash. As a result of new tariffs approved by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, that price tag is about to get steeper.

Consumers considering solar panels are going to feel a similar sticker shock.

Responding to complaints from U.S. manufacturers who said imported goods were costing them sales, Trump slapped on tariffs -- 20 percent for the first 1.2 million imported washers and then 50 percent for any other washers imported in year one. The tariff on washers will be in effect for three years, though the tariff percentage will decline in subsequent years.

The move could mean that consumers pay $50 to $90 more for machines made by South Korean manufacturers such Samsung and LG, although other foreign washer manufacturers such as Electrolux and Miele will not escape the tariff.

Solar cells, largely imported from China, are also being slapped with a tariff -- 30 percent in the first year.

The Trump administration said the move is meant to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S.

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Benton Harbor, Mich.,-based Whirlpool Corp., whose 2011 petition to the Commerce Department prompted Trump's action, said it added 200 full-time jobs at an Ohio plant in anticipation of the tariffs.

Whirlpool called the tariffs "a win for American manufacturing jobs" and said it expects the industry to add new manufacturing jobs in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee.

For its part, the solar-installing industry warns that up to 23,000 jobs could be lost.

The decision, will "create a crisis in a part of our economy that has been thriving, which will ultimately cost tens of thousands of hard-working blue-collar Americans their jobs," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, in a statement. Hopper expects the impact on solar investments to be billions of dollars.

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