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Smoot-Hawley redux?

While there is scant evidence that a job crisis would be eased with a “Buy American” policy, several prominent economists believe that protectionism would make the situation far worse.
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
October 05, 2010

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. shippers are going to have a hard sell when in comes to going global.

In its feature, “Americans Sour on Trade,” readers are told that popular sentiment against off-shoring and out-sourcing is being driven by the continued slump in U.S. employment figures.

While there is scant evidence that a job crisis would be eased with a “Buy American” policy, several prominent economists believe that protectionism would make the situation far worse.

Curiously, with President Obama now promoting an aggressive export agenda, such a development would hasten the rise of tariffs on American goods that cross-border shippers are already seeing in Mexico.

Speaking with Josh Green, CEO of Panjiva, an online search engine with detailed information on global suppliers and manufacturers, we found an enlightened voice:

“As trade professionals we understand the benefits of unfettered commerce,” he said. “But try telling that to someone who has been out of work for some time.”

Indeed, our job as communication specialists is to counter the misinformation of mainstream media and calculating politicians and be evangelists for globalization.

The first move, one might argue, is to revisit the unintended consequence of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. Forget “double-dip.” Now we’re talking Great Depression.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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