Donald Trump’s claim casting federal officials who negotiate USA trade deals as inept once again proves true. The US Dept. of Commerce has announced its “affirmative final determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of hydrofluorocarbon blends…from the People’s Republic of China.”
Hydrofluorocarbons are referred to as HFCs. The term HFCs may be Greek to many Americans, but as the EPA says, HFCs are used in “refrigeration, air conditioning, building insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols.”
Major media in the US rarely cover topics related to trade, but worse things than dumping have happened due to a product from China.
How much financial impact China’s imports of HFCs have had on US workers isn’t mentioned in the official notices at the US government’s trade website. However, The US Trade Representative office indicated the worst culprits didn’t fulfill the level playing field scenario trade deficit fans claim exists:
“Mandatory respondents Huantai Dongyue International Trade Co., Ltd./Shandong Dongyue Chemical Co. Ltd. (Collectively, Dongyue) and T.T. International Co., Ltd. were assigned final dumping margins of 216.37 percent and 101.82 percent, respectively.”
Trade with China has ballooned since former US president Bill Clinton who pushed for China to be admitted to the World Trade Organization sold American voters a rosy picture:
“They have to lower tariffs. They open up telecommunications for investment. They allow us to sell cars made in America in China at much lower tariffs. They allow us to put our own distributorships there. They allow us to put our own parts there. We don’t have to transfer technology or do joint manufacturing in China any more. This a hundred-to-nothing deal for America when it comes to the economic consequences.”
The US government Trade website said US imports from China are up 382 percent from 2000, the year before China entered the WTO. In 2015 the US imported $482 billion in goods from China; we exported $116 billion. China’s labor laws and low wage standards, government role in the country’s businesses, and forgiveness-not-permission approach to trade give that country an advantage over any free economy, even in a country like the US where the government subsidizes select multinational corporations through policy and taxpayer handouts.
While the economic impact of dumping is a negative, worse things have happened.
Americans paid little attention to contaminated heparin made with ingredients from China although people died. We will likely never know exactly how many deaths can be attributed to the contaminants because heparin is often used in elderly patients with existing medical conditions. The contaminated heparin remained in the medical market for years.
A professional organization focusing on regulatory affairs, RAPS, said the US House Committee for Energy and Commerce investigated “intentionally adulterated Chinese Heparin”:
“What’s worse is that the committee found that some of the contaminated Chinese heparin suppliers that FDA placed on import alert in 2012 had been used as suppliers by Chinese heparin manufacturers shipping directly to the US between 2008 and 2012.”
In March, 2016, Bloomberg News reported contaminated heparin could still be in use in the US. No media have warned Americans about this despite the large elderly population in this country and the widespread use of heparin in various medical treatments.
The US Trade Representative website also said China is the US’ “3rd largest supplier of agricultural imports.”
Even publications considered liberal on trade have admitted Clinton’s push on China trade didn’t deliver the political results he promised:
“WHEN trying to persuade Congress in 2000 that China should be let into the World Trade Organisation (WTO), America’s then president, Bill Clinton, knew how to win over the sceptics. China’s admission, he said, was likely to have “a profound impact on human rights and political liberty”. A decade on, China’s disappointed liberals no longer suggest that freer trade will speed political reform.”
The US government planned to issue an “antidumping duty order on imports of HFC blends from China,” according to a June news release.
While Trump’s opponents have painted him as anti-trade, that is false. Trump has cast officials who negotiate US trade as inept negotiators. They are.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Aug. 13, 2016)
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