US tariffs not the way to safeguard jobs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 September, 2005, 12:00am

The solution to concerns about China taking jobs from Americans is not by imposing tariffs on Chinese goods, but by creating a level playing field for trade, says leading Chinese-American Gary Locke.

The former Washington state governor admitted that because Chinese factories were able to produce goods more cheaply, some American communities were suffering. But he suggested that trade barriers were counter-productive and that the solution lay in US government policies.

'The US needs to ensure we have policies that put American workers at a level playing field with those from other countries,' he said. 'That's why enforcement of environmental protection, and health and safety standards are important, otherwise any country, whether in Latin America, Africa or Asia that doesn't have those protections or minimum standards will undercut the cost of products and services produced by American workers.'

Also important was for the US government to ensure that tax policy was neutral and didn't encourage outsourcing to other countries.

Mr Locke contended that tariffs on Chinese textiles would only prompt retailers to source clothing from elsewhere in Asia and around the world. He believed tariffs were wrong while American companies also expected as much access as possible to other world markets.

'We very much want to sell our products and services to customers around the world, but that means we have to be open to purchasing products and services from those countries as well,' he said.

The former governor said officials often ignored China's benefits when calling for trade action. US companies such as Microsoft and Boeing were employing large numbers of people because of demand for their products from China. 'There are also incredible opportunities in China for American companies and American workers,' he concluded.