You want to shaft foreign countries? They will usually shaft you back -- making everyone losers
Senators Robert Byrd and Sherrod Brown, please take a bow. The West Virginia and Ohio Democrats have succeeded in getting Japan to slap another year of punitive duties on some U.S. products because of their attempts to rig trade rules for their business buddies.
Specifically, Japan's cabinet decided late last month to slap a 10% tariff on ball bearings and tapered roller bearings that could knock U.S. producers out of competition in Japan. The decision cited what Japan's Ministry of Finance accurately calls "illegal disbursement under the 'Byrd Amendment.'" That follows a European Union decision in May to extend punitive duties on a range of other American products. The tariffs hit just as U.S. exports have become the main source of American growth amid the housing slump and credit crunch.
Europe and Japan are hurting their own consumers here, but they are in the legal right. The Byrd Amendment is a toxic 2000 law that distributed tariff money not to the U.S. government but directly to U.S. companies that complained about "unfair" foreign competition. The World Trade Organization ruled in 2002 that the Byrd Amendment violated global trade rules, and Congress finally repealed it in early 2006. But the disbursements continue to complaining U.S. companies for as many years as it takes to collect duty due for alleged dumping of foreign products before October 1 of 2007; last year alone the payout was more than $264 million.
Worse, as we recently reported, Senators Byrd and Brown are trying to resurrect the law, probably by attaching it to a "must-pass" piece of legislation in some Senate backroom. That's how it passed the first time. We're glad to say our editorial at least smoked out the Senators, who recently defended their protectionism in a letter to the editor. We trust the pair will also stand up and take credit for the new tariffs against U.S. exporters. Perhaps the Senators will tell workers who lose their jobs as a result that they need to take one for the Byrd-Brown team.
Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your roundup of Obama news and commentary at OBAMA WATCH