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World Trade: 'Coming Unglued'

January 14, 1987

Your editorial, although pointed in the right direction, did not go far enough.

Although trade protectionism sounds good when put in the context of getting even with those being unfair, the public forgets two things:

One: Trade tariffs will be paid by the American consumer, since our government collects the tariff for the foreign company. End result, the foreign company still makes the same profit, but now our government has found yet another source of additional taxation.

Two: If the products are so unfair, why do record number of Americans buy them? Better quality? Better value?

It clearly understandable that many Americans displaced by foreign products are bitter. Yet, many other Americans can now afford many products that otherwise would be priced out of their reach. Why? Competition among world countries makes this possible.

Then why the attitude about unfair trade? Well, if somebody makes something better and less costly, any competitor would love to put an end to it so his or her product, although higher priced, would the the only alternative. Hardly the reason most politicians talk about.

The other popular argument, that being restriction into their country of our products, is also forgetting two things:

One: Their citizens lose the value of our products since they are not allowed to buy them because of their government policies. Their citizens lose far more since they are forced to buy their own higher priced products. It is hard to see the logic of penalizing our citizens for these types of actions.

Two: Many of our products, if imported, are still non-competitive to their markets, even if they were allowed to be imported.

Finally, remember, foreign citizens must pay taxes so that their respective government can use them to subsidize their products. Although this will hurt some Americans, far more will be helped out by the generosity of foreign citizens willing to tax themselves to help our standard of living. Again, this is undesirable?

Free trade is our only answer, even if it's one-sided. Our government should be more concerned as to why one-third of our current high school students can't receive a high school diploma or in how double taxing our corporations leaves them with a competitive disadvantage in world trade rather than keeping score of what country penalizes their consumers and those that don't.

Finally, if you need any more reasons, consider how well our government manages our deficits, then ponder them managing our trade and prices. I think it's clear what the right answer is.

STEVE FREDRICKSON

Mission Hills

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