Friday, July 24, 2009

Fresh Off Lobbying for Protection, Wisc. Paper Company Complains about Being the Victim of Protectionism. Irony Ensues.

I'm never one to applaud protectionism, and I've complained vocally about the United States refusal - in violation of NAFTA - to let Mexican trucks deliver Mexican products on US roads, but I must admit that I derived a little guilty pleasure from an article in this morning's CongressDaily (subscription required):
Over 150 manufacturers, retailers and agricultural producers affected by retaliatory Mexican tariffs on goods from grapes to washing machines announced Thursday the launch of a coalition called the "Alliance to Keep U.S. Jobs."

The group said they were forming to put pressure on Congress and the Obama administration to resolve a months-long dispute over Mexican truck access to U.S. roads, which was halted by a provision in the FY09 omnibus appropriations bill.

In return, the Mexican government slapped tariffs ranging from 10 percent to 45 percent on about 90 products, worth $2.4 billion last year, arguing the trucking ban was in violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Appleton, Wis.-based Appleton Papers, victims of a 10 percent carbonless paper tariff [from Mexico], was shedding jobs and losing business to overseas competitors, said Kent Willetts, the firm's vice president for marketing and strategy. ...

My sympathies go out to the targeted American companies and their employees, most of whom are innocent victims in a ridiculous and costly dispute brought on by congressional kowtowing to the Teamsters. Hopefully their lobbying effort will prove successful.

But there's at least one "victim" here for whom I feel no sympathy: Appleton Papers. You see, just last year Appleton successfully petitioned the US government to impose duties ranging from 6.5 to 252.5(!) percent on German and Chinese imports of "Lightweight Thermal Paper." The duties are the result of a year-long antidumping and countervailing duty investigation - basically, Appleton accused the Germans and Chinese of unfairly pricing and/or subsidizing their products in the US market to Appleton's detriment. (For great research on the United States' unfair "unfair trade" laws, go here.)

So to recap: Appleton Paper, currently benefiting from a protected US paper market, is now complaining about being the "victim" of Mexican protectionism.

Irony's awesome.

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