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Protectionist Nonsense

February 10, 2010

Thanks to complaints from U.S. ribbon companies, the United States has now imposed anti-dumping duties of up to 231.4 percent on gift-wrap ribbons imported from China. Duties of up to 4.54 percent were imposed on Taiwan. The difference was explained by the Commerce Department as due to China having a higher dumping margin of between 208.8 and 231.4 percent compared with Taiwan's margin of 116.6 to 137.2 percent. Yet, some Chinese and Taiwanese firms were exempted from the duties.

And thanks to Washington's decision to sell arms to Taiwan, China has imposed duties of up to 105.4 percent on U.S. chicken products.

Where do these ridiculous numbers come from? From central-planning government economists, that's where. I liked the last line in an article about this in The China Post: "The Commerce Department will issue its final calculation of anti-dumping duties on both countries in June." This is insane, and for two reasons. Didn't Mises write about the calculation problem in the 1920s? Who is the brilliant economist at the Commerce Department that arrived at the figure of 231.4 instead of 231.5 percent? And secondly, a company in China wants to sell us in the U.S. cheap products and the U.S. government forbids it. The same government that talks about the benefits of NAFTA and free trade. Insane.

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