Monday, November 10, 2003

WTO abuse

IMO one of the more underrated scandals of the Clinton administration involved the illegal campaign contributions from China and elsewhere. It was clear that 1) the donors gave significant sums, 2) they expected something for their money, 3) there are US policies they would like to control (access to technology, readiness to defend Taiwan, etc.).

So now we have this little disagreement with the WTO about steel tariffs. These tariffs were widely questioned for good reason, and the WTO has ruled that they are unacceptable. In response,
American jeans, Florida orange juice and dozens of other US products could double in price from next month because of a growing transatlantic trade war.
OK, fair is fair. Until I read this:
In drawing up its list of sanctions, the EU has deliberately selected products from states which are crucial to President Bush's electoral hopes.
That is beyond the pale. This is supposed to be about fair trade, not politics. Foreign powers' attempts to influence Presidential or other elections in the US are not acceptable, by this means or any other.

UPDATE: Now the WSJ weighs in against the tariffs - no surprise there. They have other, better reasons to oppose the tariffs, but this was worth noting:
Meanwhile, the strategy of using the tariffs to score political points has backfired. The tariffs have done nothing to win over protectionists, as evidenced by the growing number of blue-collar union endorsements of Democrat Presidential contender (and anti-free-trader) Dick Gephardt. Karl Rove might also note that a disproportionate number of the steel-consuming jobs that have been lost are in key battleground states like Florida and Pennsylvania, which Mr. Bush needs if he is to win re-election.

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