Archive for the 'Tariffs' Category

Sep 23 2009

Tit, tat, tariff… China and America’s latest shoving match is underway

America, a champion of free trade between the world’s nations… right?

Actually, the United States places tariffs (taxes on import) on virtully every item it trades for with the rest of the world. Below is just one tiny section of the 75 page table of contents (!!) of the “Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States”.

JOGGING SUITS knitted or crocheted . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 6112.11-19
JOINERY of wood, for builders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4418
JOINTS artificial . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . 9021.11
JOJOBA OIL . . . . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1515.90, 1516-1518
JOKE ARTICLES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9505.90
JONGKONG . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . Ch. 44
JOURNALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 49-3, 4902
JUDO UNIFORMS of cotton . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . 6203.22, 6204.22
JUICES fruit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20-US1-3
fruit and vegetable . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20-5, 2009.11-90
meat, fish, or aquatic invertebrates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1603.00
JUMPSUITS men’s or boys’ . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6211.32-33
women’s or girls’ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6211.42-43
JUNIPER seeds of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . …0909.50

Yes, folks. Even “Joke Articles” made overseas are taxed before ending up in the hands of American consumers (by 70% as it turns out!). But tariffs are no joke. The podcast below offers an excellent evaluation of the effects of America’s tariffs on various stakeholders, including American consumers, producers, and workers and on foreign producers, consumers and workers.

[podcast]http://welkerswikinomics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Tariffs.mp3[/podcast]

After listening to the whole podcast, respond the the following questions in a comment.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does a tariff on Chinese tires affect American tire manufacturers? Why are American firms that make tires actually opposed to the tariff on Chinese imports?
  2. Which group is the main proponent of higher tariffs on Chinese tires? Why does this group favor higher tariffs?
  3. How have the Chinese responded to the American tire tariff? Why are American chicken farmers upset about the tax on Chinese tires?
  4. Why do “97% of economists say tariffs are a bad idea?” The commentator says economists hate them because “they are so inefficient”. Discuss the economic reasoning behind this statement.
  5. Do you think it is likely that the 35% tariff on Chinese tires will save or create jobs for Americans? Why or why not? What are your conclusions regarding the economic wisdom of tariffs?

10 responses so far

Oct 17 2007

IB – Graphing and understanding the economic impacts of protectionism

Here’s an online special for my IB students. We’ve recently started our unit on International economics, and one of the first topics is free trade, protectionism, barriers to trade, and the arguments in support of and against such protection. Below are the graphs we discussed in our Smartboard lesson during today’s class.

If you click on each image it will take you to a full size version.

unit-4-international-economics_9.png

What to notice about the impact of a tariff: Domestic producers benefit at the expense of domestic consumers and foreign producers. The green triangles represent efficiency or welfare loss because that is consumer surplus that is forgone after the tariff. The yellow rectangle is not DWL because it is tariff revenue for the government.

Be sure to understand the indirect effects of such policies also. For example, any of the three forms of protection shown here will lead to a decrease in net exports for America’s trading partners, which means a decrease in Aggregate Demand and the possibility of higher unemployment, recession, lower income, thus less demand for American products abroad. So, not only does the tariff hurt American consumers through higher prices and lower quantity, but it could harm other American businesses whose products are no longer in demand from foreigners whose incomes have declined thanks to the American tariffs.

Note also the regressive nature of tariffs. Much like a VAT or an excise tax, tariffs place a greater burden on low income earners than high income earners, as a particular tax on imports represents a larger percentage of a poor person’s income. Continue Reading »

One response so far

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