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Importing Government Subsidies isn’t Free Trade

By Chuck Muth, President, Citizen Outreach

When it comes to the debate over the current U.S. sugar policy restricting imports from foreign competitors that subsidize their home-grown sugar industries, some conservatives continue to bang the free-trade drum in a vacuum.

But as Seton Motley of Less Government noted this week…

“Actual free trade is actually free trade.  Free from import tariffs, import limits and government subsidies.  It takes every participant reducing its market warping for it to be actual progress toward actual free trade.  Everyone reducing their tariffs, limits and subsidies.

Key word: EVERYONE.

“If a country here or there unilaterally disarms, they are committing domestic economic suicide.  Undercutting their domestic producers in the name of fake free trade is titanically stupid policy.”

And yet that’s exactly what some members of Congress are advocating via support for legislation to gut the U.S. sugar program without preconditions.  They insist on eliminating our import quotas and tariffs without the simultaneous elimination of market-distorting subsidies from global competitors.

Unilateral disarmament.  Motley continues…

“Brazil cheats the global trade market to the tune of $4 billion per year.  Which means Brazilian sugar sellers can artificially charge $4 billion per year less.  Which screws US farmers.”

Not exactly an “America First” policy.  Motley concludes…

“I’m all for free trade.  Right up until it hurts our nation.  When the health of free trade and our nation are in conflict, the nation must prevail.  Importing government subsidies undercuts our domestic producers of everything that is subsidized elsewhere.

“So millions of domestic producers have been thusly driven either overseas or into extinction.  Taking with them tens of millions of domestic jobs.  That ain’t good for our nation.  Oh, and importing government subsidies isn’t free trade.”

What he said.