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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

WSJ Trade News

There's an interesting disconnect between the front page and editorial page of the Journal today on trade policy. A front-page article notes the growing concern with China by manufacturing industries and efforts by the political parties to capitalize on the issue. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) laughably claims in the final paragraph, "None of this is protectionist." This piece runs counter to the editorial, "A Free Trade Majority", on last week's congressional passage of trade pacts with Chile and Singapore:

"The 270-156 (Chile) and 272-155 (Singapore) victories are especially notable following last year's 215-212 passage of trade negotiating authority for President Bush. The margins demonstrate that political support increases for specific trade pacts that have tangible economic and foreign-policy benefits. It also shows, contrary to fears heard abroad, that the U.S. is not moving in a protectionist direction."

The truth should favor something between extreme optimism and pessimism. More advanced economies like Chile and Singapore are much easier cases than China; when it comes to trade policy, not all trade partners are equal, not by a long shot.