US goes more protectionist

Sad to read in the HoS:

President slapped punitive tariffs on all car and light truck tyres entering the from in a decision that could anger the strategically important Asian powerhouse but placate union supporters important to his health-care push at home. …

The federal trade panel recommended a 55 per cent tariff in the first year, decreasing 10 per cent in each of the next two years. Obama settled on an extra 35 per cent in the first year, reducing by 5 per cent for two years. Beijing yesterday sharply condemned the US move: “China strongly opposes this serious act of trade protectionism by the US.

“This act not only violates the rules of the World Trade Organisation but also violates the relevant commitments made by the US Government at the G-20 financial summit.”

Protectionism may sometimes deliver short-term gain, but at the expense of long-term pain. NZ is a sterling example of this as we got rid of almost all tariffs and subsidies, yet up until the global recession had the lowest unemployment rate in the OECD. Protectionism doesn’t save jobs in the long-term, it merely keeps capital locked up in relatively inefficient industries.

To be fair to Obama, Bush was also a protectionist despite his rhetoric. He slapped tariffs on regularly, against rules. They know they will lose at the WTO eventually, but do it to get through the election.

It is a pity, in terms of trade policy, that did not win. He was a very sincere and dedicated supporter – his policy was to remove barriers to trade with every country on Earth, except those they have security issues with.

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