Wednesday, December 10, 2003

US Job Losses? No, It's The Free Market At Work

US tariffs and other protectionist measures will only slow down development and delay the inevitable, argues think tank.

By LEON HADAR in Manila

According to press reports, US President George Bush will remove all or most of the tariffs imposed on steel imports, after the World Trade Organization (WTO) had concluded that the protectionist American move violated international trade rules.

Made in China: access to lower priced TVs is great for the buyers and it is great for the US economy because this frees up capital and labour to be employed in better projects
But the Bushies are continuing to advance on another protectionist front, posing as the defender of the American manufacturing industry against 'unfair trade' from China. 'Over my dead body', Mr Bush seems to be saying, as he makes it clear he would not permit cheap Chinese- made bras and TV sets to compete with American products.

One can make an argument that all this American tough stand on Chinese imports is nothing more than a political gimmick that could help Mr Bush win a few more votes in manufacturing states that also happen to be key electoral states. And since the American duties would affect only a very small percentage of Chinese imports into the US, so, what's the big deal anyway?

The Very Big Deal is, by appeasing the powerful anti-free trade forces, President Bush is feeding into rising protectionist sentiments around the country that reflect the mood not only among members of labour unions that represent declining industrial sectors, like textiles and steel.

Indeed, the notion that China and India, two of the expanding and energetic players in the global economy, are 'stealing' American jobs is becoming very popular among Americans. The result is that even 'knowledge workers' like Web designers and financial analysts are concerned that their jobs would be 'shipped' to Bangalore, India, or Shanghai, China.

  • The Business Times
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