Sunday, April 24, 2005

US Moves Trade Goalposts Again!

Once again the politicians of the USA, so-called paragons of free trade, market competition and respecter of international trade laws are now prepared to buck World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to gain a trading edge over China, and indulge in a trade campaign of China-bashing. The US did the same thing against Japan in the 1980’s.

Last year it applied the same unfair tactics against, for crying out loud, a 3rd world nation, Vietnam, by imposing inappropriate and unfair tariffs on the Asian country’s catfish fillet exports just to please its own catfish producers. It even tried to ban the Vietnamese from calling their catfish what those fish were/are, catfish. The whole affair smacked of so much unfairness that even Senator John McCain, a POW held in the notorious Hanoi Hilton, argued against such discriminatory action.

Whenever its own inefficient producers cannot hold their own in trade competition, the US law makers would attempt to, and frequently succeed in moving the goalposts to suit their own selves, while demanding other countries open complete market access to their exporters.

The USA has reneged on WTO trade laws in steel, lumber and textiles against virtually every trading country around the globe. The supposedly free-trade Bush administration, in its first term, had tried to limit open trade, enraging even its allies, invited threats of retaliation and basically demonstrated to the world the president has abandoned his free-trade principles.

Even faithful ally Australia had from time to time lots of frustration with the USA over issues like agricultural subsidies favouring American producers, unfair tariffs on Australian lamb and flight rights. As one Australian trade official said, “what can you do when you’re in a cage with a 500 kg gorilla?”

Well, with China, the story may be slightly different as the Asian giant is also another 500 kg simian in terms of financial powers, holding credit to the US massive debts. All Beijing has to do to retaliate is to spurn US Treasury bonds and American interest rates will rise nastily.

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