WASHINGTON – Only a few weeks after world leaders vowed at a Washington summit to reject trade protectionism and adhere to free-market principles as they combat the global financial crisis, a host of nations are already breaking that promise.
Moving to shield battered domestic manufacturers from foreign imports, Indonesia is slapping restrictions on at least 500 products this month, demanding special licenses and new fees on imports. Russia is hiking tariffs on imported cars, poultry and pork. France is launching a state fund to protect French companies from foreign takeovers. Officials in Argentina and Brazil are seeking to raise tariffs on products from imported wine and textiles to leather goods and peaches, according to the World Trade Organization.
This is not good news. We’ve got central banks all over the world printing money and governments restricting imports. That sounds way to similar to the 1930s for my comfort. How long before the new Obama administration responds with tariffs our own?