Trade vs. aid: Pakistan wants lower tariffs, but U.S. gives money instead. "USAID has spent millions on small-scale job-creation projects in Pakistan: Teaching 200 youths to weave on traditional looms. Helping 1,500 farmers grow better mangos. Giving 22 trout farmers eggs to restock their fish. But the number of jobs created by these small, far-flung efforts is minuscule compared to what would happen if the United States just lowered tariffs. No wonder there are conspiracy theories in Pakistan about how the United States wants to keep them dependent. In recent years, relations have been at an all-time low. Calls abound in Congress for cutting off aid. But many Pakistanis say they didn’t want aid in the first place. What they wanted was lower tariffs." Farah Stockman in the Boston Globe.
Africa on the rise. "The American Congress has badly bungled the picture this year by delaying renewal of a provision of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA…In the last few months, countless Africans have been laid off because of the delay in renewal. American importers don’t want to place orders unless they are sure that the provision will be renewed and the clothing can enter duty-free. In Lesotho alone, about 5,000 garment workers have lost their jobs because of this maddening Congressional delay." Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.
Shoe importers push to cut U.S. tariffs. "Elizabeth Eronobi was busy scouting out bargains recently at a half-price sale at the Payless ShoeSource store on 3rd Street in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles. "They have a good variety of kids' shoes here too, which are also cheap," the 30-year-old said while carrying her 5-month-old son, Muna. What she didn't realize was that virtually all the shoes sold at Payless in the U.S. are made overseas and subject to an import tax, or tariff, of as much as 67.5%. Paid at the U.S. border, added to prices and mostly hidden from customers, shoe tariffs vary widely…Sylvia Rivas, 25, a mother from East Los Angeles, often shops at Payless stores for herself and her 1-year-old daughter, Gabriella. She said she spends an average of $25 to $30 every two months on shoes. "I had no idea. I hope they can find a way to reduce the taxes," Rivas said. Aida Ahmad in the Los Angeles Times.
Political cash sweetens federal sugar boondoggle. "Sugar program defenders, like Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, are correct that the sugar program creates sugar-growing jobs here in the U.S., but the Commerce Department estimated that for every sugar-grower job gained, three other jobs are lost. The case against the program is clear. It would save consumers money. It would save American jobs." Timothy Carney in the Washington Examiner.
2011 GSP Annual Review – Who Loses? "Over the weekend, the Administration announced the results of the 2011 GSP Annual Review…Seven products were denied “competitive need limit” (CNL) waivers, or had their existing waiver revoked, effectively immediately. American companies imported $1.5 billion worth of these products under GSP last year, saving $64 million. Put differently, these products accounted for nearly 10 percent of total GSP savings last year! Renew GSP Today.