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somewhat ot - editorial in ny times re: chinese imports

updated fri 21 nov 03


Lois Ruben Aronow on thu 20 nov 03

This comes from today;s NY times, and I thought it might be of
interest as this subject has been discussed endlessly on clayart.

Aiming at Chinese Imports, Again

Published: November 20, 2003

The Victoria's Secret prime-time fashion show was broadcast last
night. Neither Heidi Klum nor Tyra Banks unfurled banners protesting
Washington's plans to restrict the importation of made-in-China
lingerie. And that's too bad. It might have lent the vapid hour a
worthier air.

On Tuesday, the Bush administration announced that it would restore
curbs on imports of Chinese knit fabrics, dressing gowns and bras.
Under the terms of the agreement China signed to join the World Trade
Organization, Washington is entitled to stem any surge of imports from
China, without needing to allege any wrongdoing.

But the case against Beijing looks flimsy. China simply appears to be
the current scapegoat of choice in Washington for any and all economic
woes. Far more of the 2.5 million manufacturing jobs lost in this
country since 2001 were lost to a slowing economy and to productivity
growth than to any foreigner's nefarious ways.

America's exports to China are rising faster than its imports, and the
growth of those imports is largely driven by American and other
foreign investment in China. Any caricature of China as a closed,
unfair trader is further belied by the trade deficit it runs with many
of its Asian neighbors. Its overall surplus is rather modest.

Nonetheless, the Bush administration decided to cater to anti-Beijing
sentiment by seeking limits on some apparel imports. If the White
House is calculating that this may stave off calls for even more
serious protectionism, it is willfully disregarding its own record.
Washington's steel tariffs and its farm bill of 2002 =97 two other
reckless examples of the administration's bizarre strategy of
advancing trade liberalization by placating special-interest
protectionists =97 have antagonized the rest of the world, while
encouraging more calls at home for protectionism.=20

The move on textiles is alarming in that it may presage what would be
a disastrous American retreat from a W.T.O. commitment to abolish
import quotas on textiles and apparel goods by 2005. Along with rich
nations' farm subsidies, restrictions on trade in textiles are rightly
viewed by the developing world as a sign that the global trading
system is rigged against them. The United States should be working to
comply with the 2005 deadline, rather than restoring some of the few
quotas it has already lifted.

Lois Ruben Aronow
Modern Porcelain and Tableware

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