The saga of Whirlpool's efforts to secure protection
AMERICAN WASHING-MACHINE makers received a parting gift from President Donald Trump. Days before leaving office, he extended tariffs on imported machines by two years. The move was a victory for Whirlpool, an appliance-maker that has sought protection for nearly a decade. The saga is a case study of the impact of protectionism on competition at home.
American businesses can ask the government for three types of protection from foreign rivals: anti-dumping duties, if imports are being sold below cost; countervailing duties, if foreign competition is subsidised; or safeguard tariffs, if imports are surging. Petitions succeed around 60% of the time; in 2016 just over 7% of America's product lines were affected by a temporary trade barrier. (That compares with about 4% in the European Union.)