“No more Mr. Nice Guy!”, said the world-famous asshole by mattsteinglass
April 2, 2007, 10:35 am
Filed under: China, Economics, United States, Vietnam

In what he calls “an astounding decision that reverses 23 years of U.S. trade policy with ‘non-market’ countries,” Forbes’s Brian Wingfield reports that the US has decided to “slap tariffs of 10.9% to 20.4% on imports of coated Chinese paper to counter subsidies that Beijing provides to its domestic paper industry.”

This would be significantly more “astounding” if the US hadn’t been imposing anti-dumping tariffs on Vietnamese catfish and shrimp for the past 4 and 3 years, respectively. Vietnam, like China, is considered a non-market economy, which allows the US Commerce Dept. to assess whether or not Vietnam is “dumping” products in a certain category via an impenetrably complex process of guessing what the products would have cost to produce, if they had been made in some other vaguely similar country, rather than Vietnam. Needless to say, the US doesn’t allow other countries to decide that the US is dumping breakfast cereal, say, because said cereal would have been more expensive to produce if not for US government subsidies to the domestic sugar industry.

I chalk this silly article up to a combination of ignorance about US trade policy, and the ingrained American predisposition to believe that all of our problems (trade deficits, Iraq war, what have you) are a result of scheming foreigners taking advantage of our immense generosity and goodwill. Rather than, say, that things are just way, way cheaper to make in China.


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