Stimulus as enemy of free trade

chinaU.S. producers of Oil Country Tubular Goods, such as Decatur’s Independence Tube, joined with the United Steelworkers today in filing an antidumping and countervailing duty petition against China. The petitions allege that Chinese producers benefit from massive government subsidies.
This may be the beginning of Chapter 2 in the effort to escape the global recession. Governmental stimulus payments get to corporate coffers through various routes, but they all have the effect of subsidizing the targeted industries. Subsidization of a domestic industry gives it a competitive advantage over foreign competition.
The steel tube folks want countervailing duties to avoid the effect of China subsidies. How long before China complains of U.S. subsidies that benefit this industry and others?
The International Trade Commission should tread warily, or laudable efforts to avoid a depression could morph into the erasure of decades of progress toward free trade.


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