USA verschärfen Handelskrieg mit China
Verwandelt China die USA etwa gar noch in einen protektionistischem Markt, fragt heute der Economist: THESE are not happy times for the dwindling band of free-traders in Washington, DC. Trade sceptics are on the move on two fronts: raising the barricades against the Chinese and refusing to lower them for the Central Americans. Politicians blame China and its fixed exchange-rate regime for America's trade deficit. But Congress is also sceptical about the Central American Free Trade Agreement. Although CAFTA is small beans in economic terms, failure to get it through would spell ill for any global trade deal at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). China-bashing has captured the headlines. On April 6th, 67 senators voted against dumping a bill proposed by Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, that would impose a 27.5% tariff on all goods from China unless Beijing adjusted its currency—which is fixed to the dollar at an artificially low exchange rate—within six months. Not only is the legislation utterly against WTO rules, it would cause havoc for the American economy. But Mr Schumer has been promised a vote by July, and his bill may well pass the Senate. ... For now, the Bush administration seems to be trying to muddle along. It has increased its rhetoric about the need for China to fix its exchange rate. It said this at the G7 meeting of finance ministers on April 16th, and, when the Treasury issues its twice-yearly report on currencies later this month, it is likely to come close to calling China a “currency manipulator”—a term last applied to Beijing in 1994. Even Mr Portman, an ardent free-trader, sounded a harsh note on China during an appearance before the Senate finance committee on April 21st. Saying that the Chinese “do not always play by the rules”, he promised to take a firmer stance than his predecessor, Robert Zoellick. This seems to have garnered approval on both sides of the aisle—though not from Mr Bayh, who said that words were no substitute for action. The Bush team hopes to keep this sort of grandstanding to a minimum. But the China-bashing in Congress presents a danger. At worst, this frenzy could result in a series of illegal (in WTO terms at least) protectionist bills becoming law. Even if things do not get that far, the China effect will complicate an already tough struggle to get CAFTA through.