Samsung made good on its promise to open its first U.S. appliance manufacturing facility in Newberry on Friday, Jan. 12. The South Korean technology giant announced in June it would renovate the former Caterpillar plant, and the $380 million, 450,000-square-foot plant had projected to employ 1,000 workers by 2020 and to evolve from manufacturing washing machines to becoming an innovation hub.
But less than two weeks later, President Donald Trump approved tariffs on Monday, Jan. 22, on imported washing machines that start at up to 50% and phase out after three years, and that could threaten Samsung’s local hiring and expansion plans.
The U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in November a graduated tariff for washing machines from Samsung and LG, based on lobbying by American competitor Whirlpool.
While the tariffs are framed as a way to promote American jobs and companies over international competitors, Gov. Henry McMaster and other SC officials had lobbied the Trump administration to shun the tariffs to avoid a negative business impact on the Palmetto State. At an October fundraiser in Greenville, McMaster had arranged a VIP meeting among Trump and top Samsung executives.
“This is not a foreign company dumping or selling cheap goods under cost, but selling high-quality goods competing with everyone. They’re building this company here,” McMaster told the Charleston Post and Courier at Friday’s event in hopes that Trump would decide against the tariff.
“This is a major investment and precisely what President Trump invited them to do.”
The tariffs announced Monday also affect imported solar energy components.