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Samsung’s plan to build U.S. factory gets closer

Mar 10,2017
Samsung Electronics is in preliminary talks to build a new home appliances factory in the United States after being accused by the Donald Trump administration of “trade cheating.”

Seo Byung-sam, head of Samsung’s home appliances division, said the company is “reviewing plans to set up a home appliances facility in the U.S.,” at a press briefing held for a new washing machine launch at its Seocho District office in southern Seoul Thursday.

“Setting up a production base is part of a strategy in the manufacturing industry to enhance global competitiveness,” Seo said. “We are reviewing under a perspective there should be a production base in the U.S. in the longer term.”

Seo, however, declined to disclose details of the ongoing discussion.

“We will announce details at another time when talks are finalized,” he added.

On the same day, the Wall Street Journal reported Samsung is in talks with at least five states including Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina for the plan with an expected initial capital investment of at least $300 million. South Carolina was reported as the strongest contender.

The facilities expansion may involve moving some oven production currently in Mexico to the U.S., the WSJ reported, and could generate about 500 jobs.

A Samsung spokesperson declined to confirm details of the report other than mentioning the company has been reviewing plans from last fall.

Korea’s home appliances giant has been directly pressured by the Trump administration to build a U.S. factory.

Peter Navarro, Trump’s adviser and head of the new National Trade Council under the White House criticized Samsung for “country hopping” to evade antidumping tariffs on Tuesday.

“Two of the South Korean competitors, LG and Samsung, simply move the production to another country each time Whirlpool wins antidumping cases against them,” Navarro said.

“LG and Samsung have moved from China to Vietnam and Thailand. This is the kind of trade cheating that must be stopped.”

Last month, Trump directly addressed Samsung in a tweet that read, “Thank you, @samsung!,We would love to have you!,” after the media reported that Samsung was expected to build a home appliances facility in the U.S.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]