Guang Ming Daily News, China
Tire Tariffs Hurt
By Ming Jinwei
Given the current global economic climate, Obama’s government is setting a terrible example and ruining the U.S.’ supposed free-trade supporting image.
Translated By John Yu
12 September 2009
Edited by Alex Brewer
China - Guang Ming Daily News - Original Article (Chinese)
As the world collectively struggles to deal with the financial crisis, the U.S. took mutually harmful measures two days ago by imposing a punishing three-year tariff on Chinese car and light truck tires. A compromise, or capitulation, to domestic political pressure, this serious trade protectionism violates WTO regulations. Given the current global economic climate, Obama’s government is setting a terrible example and ruining the U.S. supposed free-trade supporting image.
Trade protectionism is a dead-end, because such unfair, unreasonable measures inevitably end up harming the both countries involved. Not only futile in solving the United Steelworkers’ unemployment problem, these tariffs will also seriously affect tens of thousands of people working in tire import, sales, warehousing and other fields that depend on Chinese imports. It will even hurt US consumers and weaken the government’s ability to revive the automobile industry.
This tariff violates U.S. promises made at the G-20 financial summit. According to an AP commentator, Obama denounced trade protectionism and wishes to express his support of free trade in anticipation of the upcoming Pittsburgh financial summit. Unfortunately, other nations are likely to view tire protectionism as a test of this commitment. The article points out that the “Buy American” provision of last year’s economic stimulus plan already aroused suspicion among other nations, who think the U.S. only decries trade protectionism when its own industries are not threatened.
What a shame that the trade issue should become the victim of domestic political wrangling. The U.S. government is ignoring the vehement protests of importers, dealers and the Chinese government in order to curry favor from an interest group and obtain support for Obama’s health care reform. According to Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute of International Economics, health care reform is at a stalemate, and to reach a compromise, Obama is unwilling to alienate union-supporting Democrats over issues such as tire trade.
The worst global recession since the World War II has started to stabilize and show signs of improvement, but the road to recovery is full of uncertainty. As the world’s greatest economic power, the U.S. is sending the wrong signal by renewing trade protectionism at this critical juncture. As WTO deputy director-general Alejandro said, imposing punishing tariffs on Chinese tires does not benefit trade or recovery of the global economy.
Trade protectionism hurts everyone. The U.S. should learn from its unwise policies of the Great Depression, when it took the lead in spiking import tariffs, exacerbating the crisis and setting off world-wide trade wars. Seventy years later, it should not be repeating history’s mistakes. As stated by Patrick Rosenstiel, executive director of the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity, the government should be creating more jobs, because economic recovery lies in reasonable rather than confrontational economic policies.
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