By Veronique de Rugy
American firms cheering for protectionism in the form of tariffs on their foreign competitors should be careful what they wish for. As they say, “What goes around comes around.” Case in point: The American washer and dryer manufacturer Whirlpool Corp.
Last January, the Trump administration imposed a penalty on Americans who buy foreign-made washers. The administration argued that the need to protect our domestic washer makers from competition required the imposition, for a period of three years, of a 20 percent duty on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines each year and a 50 percent duty on quantities above that threshold. Whirlpool loved the idea of getting a leg up on two of its most fierce competitors and increasingly consumer darlings, South Korean Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. Why bother trying to produce goods that your consumers want to buy when Uncle Sam can make your competitors’ stuff artificially more expensive?