Just days after it emerged that China was the victim of more discriminatory trade restrictions than anyone else in the 2nd quarter of 2009, Washington has added insult to injury by imposing tariffs of up to 12.97 percent on China-made seamless steel tubes.
The move, branded by Beijing as an “abuse of trade relief measures,” is certain to rile Chinese manufacturers who are struggling to cope with a fall in demand for exports. This is just the latest in a string of tit for tat trade restrictions which have included everything from tyres, pipes, and ribbon gift wrapping, to poultry!
Ultimately, though this dispute is no laughing matter. The real losers are consumers all over the world who will find their prices escalating in times of economic hardship. As Alec van Gelder recently reminded us, the protectionist fixation with marginalising Chinese exports fails to allow for trade accounting procedures. For every $150 “made in China” iPod, only $4 is actually value added in China. The rest comes from design and production procedures that span the globe, adding value in California, Singapore, Taiwan and finally in China. This is the reality of global trading and we are all a part of it.
Restricting global trade may be an easy vote winner with the unionists, but it will only serve to make us, the consumers, worse off. Unless we are prepared to forgo the benefits of cheap household appliances, affordable medicines and plentiful food we need to leave economic nationalism behind and adapt to enjoy the benefits bestowed by globalised trading.