These Companies Wanted Tariffs. How Are They Faring Now?

After the Trump administration imposed tariffs on some types of solar panels and washing machines last year, foreign businesses in these sectors said they would make more of their products domestically to avoid the tariffs.

In the solar market, which is growing fast, several companies from overseas are building factories. Hanwha of South Korea has done so in Whitfield County, Ga. JinkoSolar, a Chinese manufacturer, has set up a plant in Jacksonville, Fla.

“That has been the biggest effect of the 201 cases,” said Edurne Zoco, a research director at IHS Markit, referring to a provision of American law that allows the president to impose import restrictions.

First Solar, an American solar panel maker that voiced support for the solar tariffs but was not directly affected by them, said it was spending $400 million on a factory in Lake Township, Ohio. Mark Widmar, the company’s chief executive, said in an email that the tariffs had “created a level playing field, rejuvenating domestic manufacturing while boosting investments and jobs.”

The two solar companies that petitioned for the tariffs did not fare as well. One, Suniva, filed for bankruptcy in 2017 before the tariffs took effect. Lion Point Capital, a New York investment firm, acquired control of the company, which emerged from bankruptcy in April. The assets of the second company, SolarWorld Americas, were acquired by SunPower, which is based in San Jose, Calif.

Two South Korean companies, LG and Samsung, set up washing-machine factories in the United States after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on those appliances in response to a complaint by Whirlpool.

Given that Whirlpool merged with Maytag in 2006 to create a washing-machine giant, some experts were skeptical of its claim that it was at a big competitive disadvantage. Whirlpool has not publicly disclosed enough data for analysts to figure out how its washer business was doing before and after the tariffs.

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