Stop selling us cheap stuff

The EU trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, is angry with China. There are, of course, plenty of reasons to be when it comes to human rights violations, the constant threat to Taiwan, and so forth, but that is not what bothers Mr Mandelson. Instead he warns them to do something about the growing trade surplus they have with respect to Europe. European industry is obviously angry at losing sales to Chinese imports, providing equally good products for less money. Business being upset is understandable, but politicians should know better.

Admittedly Mr Mandelson mentions the great winners, consumers, but he underestimates the gains we all get from being able to buy cheaper goods, and thus also being able to buy more things in general. This is a huge win, and European industry will ultimately have to adjust, using its comparative advantages and sell the things they are good at selling. Obviously governments should help them with this, but not through harmful import restrictions, but rather by helpful deregulation.

Also, Mr Mandelson’s warning seems a bit funny. “Stop exporting so much, or else our industry will get angry and ask us to impose restrictions”. It seems more reasonable to direct the warning to the industry leaders. “Adjust and impove, or die — you will not get any help from us, at the expense of the consumers”.

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