6 thoughts on “The EU’s thousands of senseless tariffs punish the poor”

  1. Posted 21/09/2017 at 18:30 | Permalink

    Professor Dowd disguises the fact that these tariffs are overwhelmingly in the food sector. All developed countries protect their food sector in order to retain the ability to feed themselves during war. The EU has greatly reduced the risk of war but we are leaving now.

    Russia has exactly the same structures to encourage local processing of coffee as has the EU. There is no reason to think that the UK will change this post Brexit. There are jobs in processing. Brexit voters jobs. Admittedly we have a demographic crisis in terms of workforce size now the Baby Boomers (British Boom not US) are retired but there are no pressures to raise minimum wages in Liverpool, Glasgow or South Wales. Preservation of unskilled jobs is more important.

  2. Posted 22/09/2017 at 17:36 | Permalink

    “The EU has greatly reduced the risk of war”
    NATO reduced the risk of war, by pointing a very large number of nuclear weapons at the people who were pointing a very large number of tanks and troops (and a smaller but by no means insignificant number of nuclear weapons) at us, and providing a security umbrella which allowed the various nations of western Europe to disregard their own national defence, thereby having no ability to fight one another even if they had had cause.

    “All developed countries protect their food sector in order to retain the ability to feed themselves during war.”
    During WWII, both Britain and the Soviet Union were kept in the fight through convoys of grain from Canada and the (initially neutral) USA transported across the Atlantic and round the North Cape. Today Britain is barely 60% self-sufficient in food – under the law of comparative advantage, it should really be less. It doesn’t benefit Britain to grow food that could be grown more cheaply in the developing world, erect tariff barriers to prevent that food from coming in, then spend vast sums of money on ‘international aid’ projects in poor countries that otherwise could have enriched themselves (and us) through expanded trade. All developed countries protect their farming industries because farmers are a politically significant producer interest: a significant part of the electorate in most if not all rural seats and able to tap into public sympathy very easily.

    “Russia has exactly the same structures to encourage local processing of coffee as has the EU. There is no reason to think that the UK will change this post Brexit.”
    Unless articles like this can convince people that we should.

    “There are jobs in processing. Brexit voters jobs.”
    Jobs which represent an opportunity cost if they can be done more efficiently elsewhere. There were jobs at British Leyland but that didn’t justify keeping it in business with tariffs and later subsidies when the Germans were making much better cars.

  3. Posted 23/09/2017 at 21:11 | Permalink

    I didn’t “disguise” anything, and in fact explicitly pointed out that tariffs on clothes and footwear amount to 37 percent of total tariff revenue raised. This figure comes from Dan Lewis’s report on EU tariffs which I strongly recommend. Your war-strategic argument (whatever its merits) does not apply to footwear.

  4. Posted 26/10/2017 at 03:02 | Permalink

    Only a mad hatter could invest such a system. The complexity and bureaucratic overhead is beyond belief. Think..if import tariffs where abolished..customs and excise department could be abolished. Overall government expenditure would fall..leading to higher purchasing power for all.

  5. Posted 04/02/2018 at 08:20 | Permalink

    There are no duties on intra-EU trade so the issue is how self-sufficient the EU is for the products and how competitive those industries are. There are also no duties or quotas on the imports from the world’s poorest countries with the EBA – Everything But Arms trade agreement. EBA means that the 49 of the world’s poorest countries can export products to the EU free of the tariffs that the article is attacking. The developing countries beyond the EBA are in GSP or GSP+. Bangladesh is a well known clothing producer – as an EBA country it has no duties or quotas on its clothing exports to the EU.
    So the article is disingenuous by conflating tariffs intended for exports from rich countries whilst waving a flag for poor countries but failing to mention that the poor countries in the EBA see no such tariffs. The general drive globally is to reduce tariffs.
    It is interesting that you quote Peel from 1843 (regarding the Corn Law repeals) given that at that time, the UK domestic policies were causing the starvation of many thousands of UK citizens in Ireland even though Ireland was exporting food to feed the rest of the UK. The rest is history and much of Ireland is not part of the UK any more. Reduced tariffs are of little use if the ‘poor’ do not have any money to pay even the reduced price of goods. So lets be very clear here; when you say elimination of import duties you really mean the short term increase in importer margins because it is unlikely that the importers will pass on the duty reduction to the poor unless forced to do so. Unless the trade policies have a clear goal in mind of reducing the cost of living whilst reducing levels of poverty, those that use the ‘poor’ as an excuse for a particular action are duplicitous at best.

  6. Posted 06/03/2018 at 10:35 | Permalink

    I think this article presents a false picture. UK consumers would not suddenly find themselves surrounded with cheap South African oranges in December, even with no tariff. Once high quality, new season Spanish citrus is available, late season South African product loses most of its value. The Spanish cost chain is cheap and efficient, contrasting with high transport costs from Africa, making it largely uneconomic for producers to keep shipping. The tariff is an added incentive to get to market early.

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