(ATTN: CHANGES dateline; UPDATES with more details, LG official's comments in paras 3, 9-12)By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL/TENNESSEE, May 30 (Yonhap) -- LG Electronics Inc. said Thursday it has completed the construction of a new washing machine plant in the United States, which will produce high-end products for the world's largest home appliance market.

A ribbon-cutting was held at the US$360 million facility in Clarksville, Tennessee, with U.S. politicians and senior company officials, the South Korean electronics maker said.

About 700 employees will work on the two main assembly lines for top-load and front-load models to churn out 1.2 million washers a year starting from later this year, LG said.

The Tennessee plant spanning 77,000 square meters will mainly produce high-end washers for the U.S. market.



The facility has been in operation since December, six months ahead of the schedule, as LG ramped up production in the U.S. amid import tariffs by President Donald Trump's administration.

After the U.S. government slapped safeguard duties of up to 20 percent on imported large residential washers in February 2018, South Korean companies have sought ways to increase U.S. production to minimize the impact from the trade barriers.

Under the safeguard measures, the U.S. government imposed a 20 percent tariff beyond 1.2 million units in the first year and a 50 percent tariff on additional imports. Imported South Korean washers already fulfilled the 1.2 million quota this year, which means another batch of products will be subject to higher tariffs.

Song Dae-hyun, president of the home appliance and air solution division at LG Electronics, said the company raised the prices of products sold in the U.S. to reflect the safeguard tariffs.

"We raised prices of U.S.-bound products to reflect the import duties because we can't sell at a loss," Song said in a meeting with reporters after the ceremony. "Products from the Tennessee factory and imported washers are expected to take about half of U.S. sales this year."

LG Electronics has manufactured washers for the U.S. market in South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, but products from the two Southeast Asian nations will be headed to other markets following the Tennessee factory opening, the company said.

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