Smoot-Hawley third world style by mattsteinglass
March 31, 2009, 6:48 pm
Filed under: Economics, Vietnam

Last week, India imposed anti-dumping tariffs of 16% on Vietnamese textile imports. The Indians have at least some evidence that Vietnamese firms are dumping textiles below cost, but it seems highly likely that this is basically a protectionist measure to protect domestic textile producers in a situation of shrinking markets, where East Asian producers probably are in fact dropping prices to get rid of overproduction as their first-world clients disappear.

At least the Indians have some evidence of dumping, which is more than can be said of the Egyptians. Last week Egypt banned imports of Vietnamese catfish, also known as basa or pangassia, based on nothing more than vague accusations in the the newspaper Al-Ahram that Vietnamese catfish are raised in the polluted waters of the Mekong Delta. A country that farms its own fish in the Nile Delta, obviously, should really not be running around making accusations about polluted water. In fact the Mekong Delta water in basa-farming areas is reasonably clean, and the European Union and World Wildlife Foundation have been setting up stringent certification regimes to ensure that Vietnamese catfish exports are safe and hygienic. The Egyptian ban is clearly just an effort to protect local Nile carp producers.

The global economic slowdown is driving countries towards protectionism. We’ll have to see whether there’s anything anyone can do about it.

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