Thursday, April 29, 2004


Here's a picture you don't get to see too often, thanks to the FT. I knew there was something suspect about this guy: he's a Chinese agent!

Why else would he reject out of hand trade petitions to defend the US economy against China's mercantilist ploys?

BTW, I heard trade apologist Gary Hufbauer being interviewed on the news last night about the Bush administration's decision to back away from these petitions. According to Hufbauer, there was no legal basis for these claims to be made at the WTO.

I'm left to believe that Hufbauer is completely oblivious. The claims are not being made under WTO rules, they are being made under US trade law. The legal briefs devote ample discussion to how US trade law (Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, ammended 1988) is written to prevent currency manipulation, to uphold social standards and to prevent human rights and labor abuses.

Even accepting Hufbauer's glaring ignorance of the facts, WTO rules actually do allow for such a suit in Article XX of the GATT. And I quote:

"...nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any contracting party of measures...relating to the products of prison labour."

This measure, however, has never been tested before a WTO dispute settlement tribunal. One of the flaws with the WTO, of course, is that only nation-states have the power to levy unfair trade suits in its quasi-judicial tribunal. Without the will of the Bush administration, citizens and civil society are powerless to take this issue further.

Keep in mind that Hufbauer ain't a lawyer (nor am I). He's an economist. Hufbauer should stick to making egregiously ridiculous predictions about job creation from trade. At least he knows how to do that.


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