Export Prices and Export Cartels (Webb-Pomerene Associations)

By Milton Gilbert; Paul D. Dickens | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II

EARLIER STUDIES OF EXPORT PRICING POLICIES

There is considerable evidence that for many years American industry has sold its products abroad at other than domestic prices. That evidence, however, is not very satisfactory in revealing the extent of the practice, the magnitude of price differentials, or the economics of the problem. While a few official inquiries were made, the information disclosed is not sufficient to answer the questions of major interest. But as to the mere existence of price differentials for some products there can be no doubt.1

One of the earliest notices of exporting at lower than domestic prices in official publications was made in regard to the steel industry and its effect upon shipbuilding in a monthly statistical bulletin formerly issued by the Treasury Department.

The progress of work on shipbuilding in the United States has likewise been retarded, because makers of steel materials required a higher price from the American consumers than they did from the foreign consumers for substantially similar products. Of course, American exporters have to get foreign contracts in competition with foreign plate makers, who are excluded from our domestic market. In addition to this, American export plate makers are interested in preventing the establishment of plate manufacturing in their customer nations abroad, and to that end bid low enough to discourage foreign nations from entering the field for producing their own plate at home. The progress of domestic manufacturers of iron and steel goods may likewise be handicapped by the sale of iron and steel in their unmanufactured state at so much lower a price to foreigners than to domestic consumers as to keep the American competitor out of foreign markets generally. The natural limit to such a policy of maintaining a higher level of prices for these materials at home than abroad is found in the restriction of domestic consumption and in the import duty. If restriction of consumption at home does not operate to prevent the short-sighted policy of discrimination against domestic development of manufacturing industries, the other contingency is more or less sure to arise, namely, the demand for a reduction of the tariff on unfinished iron and steel, in order to equalize the opportunity of makers of finished products in foreign markets. To this policy the domestic consumer is usually ready to lend himself, thus making a powerful combination of interests to set limits to the rise of domestic prices of iron and steel materials.2

The first attempt at a systematic study of the problem was made by the staff of the Industrial Commission and presented in its report "Foreign and Domestic Prices of American Products."3

The report stated that, "In view of the frequent assertion that exporters of American-made goods often sell them in foreign countries at lower prices than are obtained for similar goods at home, the Industrial Commission has endeavored to secure from the business interests of the United States a full and frank statement covering the efforts

____________________
1
Jacob Viner, Dumping: A Problem in International Trade, Chicago. 1923, pp. 80-90.
2
"Monthly Summary of Commerce and Finance," August 1900, p. 250, Bureau of Statistics, Treasury Department.
3
Report of the Industrial Commission, 1901, vol. XIII, pp. 725-760.

-7-

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