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EU Tariffs Shoed In

The latest chapter in the sorry saga of the EU’s protectionist (mis)adventure [1]is reported by Bloomberg:

I completely agree with Alisdair Gray, director of the British Retail Consortium in Brussels, who is quoted as saying:

Peter Mandleson, the EU Trade Commissioner, makes the point that “free” trade is different from “fair” trade, but all the associated talk of counterfeiting, and limited market access in China seem to me to be over-hyped red herrings. It is more likely that this is about fading industries (in this case, “mainly small businesses [some employing under 10 people] concentrated in southern Europe”) being hit by cheap competition, and the fear that they might go out of business (forget, for the moment, the happy consumers who are buying cheap products). Instead of taking difficult strategic decisions, such as moving production offshore, focusing on high-end, niche markets, design, or other value-added activities, these businesses are just throwing up their arms and asking for help (in return for votes).

In a wonderful example of political double-speak, Mandleson is also quoted in relation to the new EU strategy for China [2], as saying:

The theory is fine, but the practice is not. So where is the joined up thinking from Europe’s leaders? As with the US, where narrow interests in Congress have lead to misguided, anti-China initiatives [3], so the EU has placed the short-term interests of a few small businesses in front of the big picture that they prefer not to look at. The problem will not go away, and it has to be addressed with some brave political thought.

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