Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Trade Remedies and US Competitiveness

Today Cato's Dan Ikenson published a new paper on the US antidumping law and American competitiveness.  Here's the paper's setup in Ikenson's Forbes op-ed on the same subject:
During the decade from January 2000 through December 2009, the U.S. government imposed 164 antidumping measures on a variety of products from dozens of countries. A total of 130 of those 164 measures restricted (and in most cases, still restrict) imports of intermediate goods and raw materials used by downstream U.S. producers in the production of their final products. Those restrictions raise the costs of production for the downstream firms, weakening their capacity to compete with foreign producers in the United States and abroad.

In all of those cases, trade-restricting antidumping measures were imposed without any of the downstream companies first having been afforded opportunities to demonstrate the likely adverse impact on their own business operations. This is by design. The antidumping statute forbids the administering authorities from considering the impact of prospective duties on consuming industries—or on the economy more broadly—when weighing whether or not to impose duties.

That asymmetry has always been insane, but given the emergence and proliferation of transnational production and supply chains and cross-border investment (i.e., globalization)—evidenced by the fact that 55% of all U.S. import value consists of raw materials, intermediate goods, and capital equipment (the purchases of U.S. producers)—it is now nothing short of self-flagellation.
Here's my favorite part:
If you need more evidence that the antidumping status quo is weighted heavily against import-consuming U.S. industries, consider this gem: three of the nine mineral raw materials that are the subject of the U.S. case against China in the WTO (magnesium, silicon metal, and coke) are simultaneously subject to U.S antidumping restrictions. That’s right! With our own import restricitons firmly in place, the United States is suing China to remove its export restrictions on the same products. That sounds like an excellent use of resources.
And here's the paper's basic conclusions:
The NEI should include a serious commitment to antidumping reform. At a minimum, consuming industries should be given legal standing to participate fully in antidumping proceedings, antidumping measures should be rejected if the projected costs of those restrictions on those firms and on the broader economy exceed some reasonable threshold, and any duties applied should not exceed the level found necessary to remedy injury to the petitioning domestic industry.
Be sure to read the whole thing here.

1 comment:

Dan Ikenson said...

Thanks for the plug, Scott. Now you and I both know....JK, bud!