Dan DiMicco: Trade 'Protectionists': Who are they, Really?

March 17, 2015


Dan DiMicco serves on the CPA Board and is the Chairman Emeritus and former President and CEO of Nucor Steel Corporation

For decades now it has been almost impossible to have a healthy debate/discussion on global trade without the 4-letter word of trade “Protectionist” being used in a derogatory manner.

[Reposted from Forbes  |  Dan DiMicco  |  March 13, 2015]

Quite often I and many like minded trade “Realists” have been so classified. People who understand that, most all, global trade is managed by governments to their advantage, they are not the “protectionists” as the word is used. We just have had to live with, and literally fought with, the heavy hand of foreign governments who practice various levels of trade “Mercantilism” or predatory trade. We have had to do this with little proactive support of our own government. In short we find ourselves competing against Governments and not profit motivated, market based Companies.

Global trade is supposed to take place within an agreed upon framework of rules and laws so as to prevent trade mercantilism and promote open, free market driven trade. You will note I don’t use the term “Free Trade” and for good reason. It only exists in text books and in the minds of academics or those who use the ideology for their own self interests. Free trade does not exist in our world, it never has and never will. Governments can’t resist the opportunity to game the system to suit there political agenda. They sign on to playing by the rules in numerous trade agreements, the WTO membership, and various ” Favored Nation Agreements” but they more often than not (and some all the time) cheat and ignore the trading rules they agreed to to gain access to our markets. We call them “ Trade Cheaters”!

Now the world’s true ” Protectionists” are those countries who game the system to be able to flood our markets with illegally dumped products and services, and keep us out of theirs. Or they put tariffs and worse, “ non- tariff trade barriers”, up to make it uncompetitively expensive to sell there or keep us out altogether. But there is another group of “True Protectionists” who, by their inactions or down right opposition to holding our “Trading Partners” accountable for breaking the rules of trade are enablers of the Trade Cheaters. In so doing they actually are “Protectionist” of the Trade Cheaters rule breaking. They are the true protectionists to the detriment of our economy, the American MiddleClass, and the creation of the good paying jobs that come from manufacturing…..the innovating, making and building of things here at home.

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