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US Trade Panel Allows Investigations Sought By Whirlpool, Wind Tower Makers BWEN

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A U.S. trade panel Friday cleared the way for the government to pursue high-profile investigations that could lead to import duties on wind towers from China and Vietnam and dishwashers from Mexico and South Korea. The votes by the International Trade Commission allows the Commerce Department to explore whether to slap antidumping or countervailing duties on the imports. U.S. companies have sought relief, claiming that the wind towers and dishwashers are receiving unfair government subsidies and being dumped, or sold at less than normal value, in the market. In one case, the Wind Tower Trade Coalition claims Chinese and Vietnamese makers of the massive steel structures that hold up spinning turbine blades have received a range of unfair benefits. Imports actually fell through 2010, with Chinese-made wind towers declining 42% to $103.6 million and Vietnamese towers down 23% at $51.9 million. The four companies on the petition are Trinity Industries Inc. (TRN), Otter Tail Corp.'s (OTTR) DMI Industries, Katana Summit and Broadwind Energy Inc. (BWEN). The complaint follows a similar dispute over the Chinese clean-energy sector. In November, the U.S. opened an investigation into allegations from the U.S. arm of German-based SolarWorld AG (SWV.XE) that Chinese competitors were dumping their products on the U.S. market. The Chinese government has criticized both investigations. In the wind tower case, Commerce is expected to make its preliminary determination on countervailing duties on March 23, with an initial decision on antidumping duties expected June 6. The dishwasher case was the second investigation demanded by Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) against competition from South Korea and Mexico, having earlier sought duties on "bottom-mount" refrigerators. Both cases mostly target South Korean rivals Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNHY, 005930.SE) and LG Electronics Inc. (066570.SE). "This decision by the ITC validates the actions we've taken to protect the U.S. domestic appliance industry, our 23,000 U.S. employees and the communities in which they work," said Whirlpool spokeswoman Kristine Vernier. Dishwasher imports from South Korea rose to $659.1 million in 2010 from $569.8 million the year before, while the value of Mexican washers rose to $450.2 million from $382.7 million. In that case, Commerce is expected to make its preliminary determination on countervailing duties on March 26, with an initial decision on antidumping duties expected June 7. --By Tom Barkley, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9275; tom.barkley@dowjones.com

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02/10/201213:43:31CORRECT: US Trade Panel Allows Investigations Sought By Whirlpool...
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