WTO GATS and protectionism or nationalism

Heritage notes that anti-dumping lawsuits have increased in the US and the administration is not attending to global free trade as we have dropped below the top ten.

Such measures are supposed to be used to prevent other countries from selling their goods here at below-market prices, and that makes sense. But as Index co-editor Mary Anastasia O’Grady points out, America now overuses this tool. In fact, since 1995, the United States has trailed only India in the number of antidumping cases it has filed.Many of those came as a result of the Byrd Amendment, named for Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia. This amendment encourages producers to file complaints with the government, because if any “dumping” is found, they get to share in the penalties collected.The World Trade Organization ruled two years ago that the Byrd Amendment violates international trade policies, and the U.S. has promised to comply with the WTO. But we haven’t done so yet, which means that eight American trading partners soon could retaliate against our unfair trade practices — a move that could start a trade war.There’s no need for that. After all, trade wars are expensive and end up hurting everybody, while, as the Index proves year in and year out, free trade builds economies and ends up helping everybody.If more of our politicians will recognize the benefits of economic freedom and go back to promoting it, next year we can return to the top 10 worldwide. And that would be good news — for everybody.

The NYT reports China is making moves as well.

The directive, issued in June, called for burdensome new safety inspections for foreign-made medical devices — but not for those made in China. The Bush administration is crying foul.

Even more worrisome to the administration is that the directive seems part of a recent pattern in which Chinese officials issue new regulations aimed at favoring Chinese industries over foreign competitors, despite efforts by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. to ease economic tensions.

“There is clearly a growing economic nationalism in China that is leading to discrimination against foreign investors in pillar sectors of the economy,” said Myron Brilliant, vice president for Asia at the United States Chamber of Commerce. “It’s not only a threat to foreign investors but it also undermines China’s transition to a market-based economy.”

Life gets complicated.

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