The Antidumping Boomerang

The Wilson Quarterly, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview

The Antidumping Boomerang


Free trade advocates are often accused of putting the interests of American consumers ahead of the welfare of U.S. industries and workers. Bovard, a Cato Institute policy analyst, argues that all suffer from protectionist American trade policies.

Antidumping laws are a case in point. Although the laws are intended to protect U.S. industries, Bovard maintains that they increasingly prevent U.S. firms from getting foreign supplies and machinery that they need, and thus hurt U.S. competitiveness. In 1991, for example, the U.S. Department of Commerce ruled that Japanese advanced flat panel displays--the screens used in laptop and notebook computers--were being dumped in the United States. But there are no viable U.S. manufacturers of flat panels, Bovard says, and IBM, Apple Computer, and Compaq begged the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) not to impose prohibitive duties. The ITC did so anyway, "largely because Japanese imports prevented would-be U.S. flat panel producers from raising the capital to begin manufacturing." The ruling prompted an exodus of production overseas. "We were going to produce our new Powerbook laptop computer in Colorado--but instead we are producing them in Cork, Ireland," said Jim Berger of Apple Computer. …

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