The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday recommended a 50-percent tariff on washing machines from Samsung and LG.
More than 90 percent of washing machines imported into the U.S. are Korean. The move is part of U.S. President Donald Trump's "America first" policy of protecting domestic products and jobs.
The ITC recommended that the tariffs be imposed over a three-year period, starting with 50 percent in the first year for imports surpassing 1.2 million units, followed by a slight decrease in the next two years to 40 percent. It also recommended a similar level of tariffs for washing machine parts.
The decision will be made in February. The last time the U.S. enforced protective measures of this kind was in 2002.
The recommendation comes in response to a petition filed by U.S. manufacturer Whirlpool in May.
Korean-made products would be exempt from such safeguard measures under the bilateral free trade agreement, but Samsung and LG make most of their washing machines for the U.S. market in Vietnam and Thailand.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the two companies export 3 million washing machines to the U.S. annually worth US$1 billion.
The two companies said they will consider taking the U.S. to the World Trade Organization.
Washing machines manufactured by Samsung and LG are displayed at a shop in Los Angeles, California in October. /Yonhap