Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Quick Hits

Lots of small things going on today worth noting:
  • US promises world that it'll comply with WTO rulings on "zeroing"; world calls bulls**t.  BNA (subscription) reports that, at a March 3-4 WTO negotiating meeting, the United States was telling anyone who would listen that it, like, totally intends to comply with a bundle of WTO rulings against its use of “zeroing” in antidumping investigations.  As you might recall, "zeroing" artificially (and, of course, illegally) inflates dumping margins (duties) on foreign goods, and the US has refused to fully comply with the aforementioned WTO decisions where they involve reviews of existing antidumping orders. (They're complying with decisions involving original investigations.)  Given these facts, WTO Members are rightly skeptical of the US claims: “We are concerned about a usual cosmetic change which would be far from compliance,” said one overly-polite WTO official.  Unofficial translation: "Riiiight. You're totally going to issue some fake 'change' that still ends up screwing our exporters." Meanwhile, both the EU and Japan are proceeding along the long and winding legal road to retaliating against US exports because of American non-compliance on zeroing - to the tune of about $311 and $248.5 million, respectively.  Awesome.
  • Schumer makes it official: it's re-election season.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Senator Charles Schumer (D-Campaigning) and three other awesome Democrat Senators (Brown, Casey and Tester) have proposed legislation - the "American Renewable Energy Jobs Act" - that would block the Energy Department from using stimulus funds to subsidize wind-energy projects that use foreign-made turbines. Their main target is a proposed wind-energy project in Texas where the backers plan to use wind turbines made with Chinese components.  Of course, while the Senators chest-thumped about China, they curiously omitted that: (i) the targeted Texas company hasn't even filed for Stimulus* funding yet; (ii) the legislation is vigorously opposed by both Energy Secretary, and fellow Democrat, Steven Chu ("You do not want to stop these projects if two-thirds [of the hardware] is American and one-third is foreign.") and the primary beneficiaries of such legislation - the American Wind Energy Association ("[A]pproximately 40,000 American jobs were saved by [Stimulus*-funded wind] projects.... The Schumer proposal would shut the program down... because no wind developer could meet the strict requirements of the Schumer Buy American amendment--the United States simply does not have the manufacturing capacity yet to produce 100% of the turbine parts."); and (iii) as I noted a while ago, the demonized Chinese products contain lots of US (and German) components.  But hey, Schumer's up for re-election, and China demagoguery is one of his signature campaign moves, so facts be damned!
  • There's a new sheriff in town, and he's not a big fan of those pending FTAs.  Due to serious ethical concerns, Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) is now on "temporary leave of absence" from his  chairmanship of the House Ways & Means Committee - the primary House committee that deals with US trade issues and the only House committee that must, by law, review any of the pending FTAs with Colombia, Panama or South Korea before the Houses vote on them.  Rep. Sander Levin (D-UAW) will replace Rangel, and, as Reuters reports, he's not a big fan.  Granted, I didn't think that these FTAs were going anywhere in 2010 anyway, but this change should pretty much seal the deal.

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