The Blog

A European Golden-Boy?

Europeans want John Kerry to be president. But would he be good for their economies?

12:00 AM, Jul 13, 2004 • By IRWIN M. STELZER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Unfortunately, Kerry has made it clear that he intends to court the goodwill of Europe, a policy hardly consistent with pressuring the French and others to stimulate their economies and to open their markets to American goods. So he will have to find ways to reduce imports, especially from the Asian countries that are the largest contributors to America's trade deficit. That will force China and Japan to divert goods to Europe--the very area that sees the Massachusetts senator as such a wonderful alternative to the Texan president. Even now, a group set up by the European Commission is proposing drastic cuts in textile imports from China and India, and a change in rules to make it easier to file anti-dumping cases at the World Trade Organization.

ALL OF THIS comes at a time when Bush has decided that his flirtation with protectionism--remember the steel tariffs--damaged ,rather than helped, the American economy. He has rejected demands of several members of Congress to renew the international quota system that has limited the access of overseas textile and apparel manufacturers to American markets. Those quotas will expire on January 1, 2005. He has instructed the Department of Commerce to reduce tariffs imposed on Chinese television sets to inconsequential levels.

Bush's record as a free trader is hardly unblemished: Just last week his Commerce Department imposed high tariffs on shrimp imports from China and Vietnam. But were Adam Smith alive, and voting, he would surely feel that the incumbent has a comparative advantage over his challenger.

Irwin M. Stelzer is director of economic policy studies at the Hudson Institute, a columnist for the Sunday Times (London), a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.