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Trade policy at the national level

Yet another dimension of trade policy, along with international and regional trade agreements, happens at the national level. The United States, for example, imposes import quotas on sugar, because of a fear that such imports would drive down the price of sugar and thus injure domestic sugar producers. One of the jobs of the United States Department of Commerce is to determine if imports from other countries are being dumped. The United States International Trade Commission—a government agency—determines whether domestic industries have been substantially injured by the dumping, and if so, the president can impose tariffs that are intended to offset the unfairly low price.

In the arena of trade policy, the battle often seems to be between national laws that increase protectionism and international agreements that try to reduce protectionism, like the WTO. Why would a country pass laws or negotiate agreements to shut out certain foreign products, like sugar or textiles, while simultaneously negotiating to reduce trade barriers in general? One plausible answer is that international trade agreements offer a method for countries to restrain their own special interests. A member of Congress can say to an industry lobbying for tariffs or quotas on imports: “Sure would like to help you, but that pesky WTO agreement just won’t let me.”

If consumers are the biggest losers from trade, why do they not fight back? The quick answer is because it is easier to organize a small group of people around a narrow interest versus a large group that has diffuse interests. This is a question about trade policy theory. Visit this website and read the article by Jonathan Rauch.

In newspaper headlines, trade policy appears mostly as disputes and acrimony. Countries are almost constantly threatening to challenge the “unfair” trading practices of other nations. Cases are brought to the dispute settlement procedures of the WTO, the European Union, NAFTA, and other regional trading agreements. Politicians in national legislatures, goaded on by lobbyists, often threaten to pass bills that will “establish a fair playing field” or “prevent unfair trade”—although most such bills seek to accomplish these high-sounding goals by placing more restrictions on trade. Protesters in the streets may object to specific trade rules or to the entire practice of international trade.

Through all the controversy, the general trend in the last 60 years is clearly toward lower barriers to trade. The average level of tariffs on imported products charged by industrialized countries was 40% in 1946. By 1990, after decades of GATT negotiations, it was down to less than 5%. Indeed, one of the reasons that GATT negotiations shifted from focusing on tariff reduction in the early rounds to a broader agenda was that tariffs had been reduced so dramatically there was not much more to do in that area. U.S. tariffs have followed this general pattern: After rising sharply during the Great Depression, tariffs dropped off to less than 2% by the end of the century. Although measures of import quotas and nontariff barriers are less exact than those for tariffs, they generally appear to be at lower levels, too.

Thus, the last half-century has seen both a dramatic reduction in government-created barriers to trade, such as tariffs, import quotas, and nontariff barriers, and also a number of technological developments that have made international trade easier, like advances in transportation, communication, and information management. The result has been the powerful surge of international trade.

Key concepts and summary

Trade policy is determined at many different levels: administrative agencies within government, laws passed by the legislature, regional negotiations between a small group of nations (sometimes just two), and global negotiations through the World Trade Organization. During the second half of the twentieth century, trade barriers have, in general, declined quite substantially in the United States economy and in the global economy. One reason why countries sign international trade agreements to commit themselves to free trade is to give themselves protection against their own special interests. When an industry lobbies for protection from foreign producers, politicians can point out that, because of the trade treaty, their hands are tied.

References

United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015. “Employment Situation Summary.” Accessed April 1, 2015. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm.

United States Department of Commerce. “About the Department of Commerce.” Accessed January 6, 2014. http://www.commerce.gov/about-department-commerce.

United States International Trade Commission. “About the USITC.” Accessed January 6, 2014. http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/about_usitc.htm.

Questions & Answers

Cardinal utility theory assumes that consumers can
Siphelele Reply
why are price ceiling and price floor said to be efficient?
Mariateretia Reply
they are called inefficient, price floor or a price ceiling will prevent a market from adjusting to its equilibrium price and quantity, thus creating an inefficient outcome.
Stuti
please how did we get fixed cost, marginal and average cost. thanks
Onovo Reply
can any one help me solve pie chart, bar chart and histogram. thanks
Onovo
any answers please, thank you
Onovo
solution on average cost and marginal cost
Onovo
p= -10+0.05p
Dil
Create the supply curve
Dil
plz help..
Dil
are u sure that it is p? it should have two variables. Qd should be there too
Stuti
if you have two variable, put different values of p to get q and you will have coordinates that u can use to make the supply curve.
Stuti
Fixed cost remain constant,when we r going to gain marginal cost so we should increase in additional unit/variables to get marginal cost with the increase in mc then we easily get average cost
Bilal
Answer the below question to best of your ability by employing the tax concept and supply and demand Suppose the supply of tobacco is elastic and the demand for tobacco is inelastic. If an excise tax is levied on the suppliers of tobacco, will the incidence fall mostly on consumers or mostly on pro
Carolyn Reply
first you suppose the demand for tobacco is elastic that means if price change more change would occur in demand and second you suppose tax has been lived on suppliers that means the price of tobacco will rise up and it's demand will decline that means consumer will start consuming less
Wani
what is perfect competition
Masciline Reply
perfect competition is the form of market where sellers are selling homogeneous product to buyers homogeneous product means a product which is same colour ,same brand and same cost has been used .
Wani
WHAT IS OPPORTUNITY COST AND GIVE EXAMPLES
Werku Reply
What Is opportunity cost and give examples fot it?
Werku
Opportunity cost means profit of what you have give up in order to choose something else
Wani
example of opportunity cost . we take example of land.As land have alternative uses it can be use for production , for building factories on it or for construction of house . suppose you are the owner of land and you build house on it that means you give up the benefit which you may get in produ
Wani
the benefit which you didn't get in production or in building factories is called opportunity cost
Wani
opportunity cost is the cost of what you give up to get something. example: if u wanna buy an apple and a mango and end up buying only a mango. your opportunity cost is the cost of the Apple the you've given up
ebrima
define marginal rate of substitution
Roshan Reply
marginal rate of substitution
Lengha
The rate at which one product can be substituted for another is called MRS.
Ramachandra
how much additional units of a product under consideration is required to deliver the same level of satisfaction that one derives from an additional unit of a given product.
Simply untill the satisfaction one icreased another decreased also depends upon the satisfaction power of a commodity
Bilal
Why indifference curve does not intersect x axis and y axis
Bilal
If the two products are perfect substitutes it will touch both axis. In your question, it is assumed that these are not perfect substitutes. If it touches any axis, it shows that with the given quantity of one product alone gives the same level of satisfaction.
Ramachandra
the intersection at the axis would mean that the product is perfectly substitutable and hence the indifference analysis is non-existent.
what industry monopolies belongs
Gwayi Reply
what are the causes of shift in demand curve to the right
Gideon Reply
what industry monopolies belongs
Gwayi
Compare and contrast four Organizations that face elastic demand,inelastic demand,unitary elasticity of demand and perfectly elastic demand.
Puseletso Reply
firms in an oligopoly can act like a monopoly when they form a cartel,which can be based on agreement or rather a court order,hence this leads to increasing barriers to entry for other firms
Jacob Reply
economic inefficiency
alino Reply
what courses the curve to move
Siphelele Reply
is it possible to say scarcity is the out come of excessive greed on the part of human?
Kwame Reply
TU=3Q2-2Q+4.what is Total utlity maximize?
Lema Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Microeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11627/1.10
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