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[经济学人] [2011.10.15]And now, protectionism 贸易保护主义再袭

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发表于 2011-10-25 10:50 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Trade with China
中国贸易


And now, protectionism
贸易保护主义再袭

America’s latest anti-China bill tackles a problem already being solved
反华议案重回议程,待解问题子虚乌有



THE global economy is sicker than a man with a bellyful of bad oysters. The last thing it needs now is a trade war. Yet on October 11th America’s Senate passed the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, which would allow any “fundamentally misaligned” currency to be labelled a subsidy subject to countervailing duties. No prizes for guessing which large Asian nation the senators have in mind.
如今,世界经济比吃坏了肚子更让人恶心,人们最不希望看到的就是一场贸易战争了。然而,10月11日,美国参议院通过了《2011年货币汇率监督改革法案》,规定任何汇率被“严重低估”的货币都将被认为是贸易补贴,应对该国征收反补贴税。谁都能猜到这项法案矛头对准的是哪个亚洲大国。

Variants of this bill have been introduced regularly since 2003; all have failed. But this time may be different: anti-China sentiment in both parties has grown. Republican leaders have so far resisted holding a vote on a similar bill in the House of Representatives and look unlikely to change their minds; but if they do, the bill would almost certainly pass.
从2003年起,该法案已通过多种形式被提出,都以失败告终。但是,这次有所不同,因为两党中的反华势力都已有所抬头。到目前为止,共和党领导人在众议院还没有对相似的议案投过赞成票,并且他们看起来也不会改变主意;然而一旦他们改变主意,这项法案的通过便几乎确定无疑了。

It may seem contradictory that the Senate is threatening to raise barriers to trade with China even as it has just passed bilateral trade pacts with Colombia, South Korea and Panama. But those treaties were first signed four to five years ago. Public support for free trade has been withering for a decade, tracking the decline in middle-class American manufacturing jobs. The main cause of that decline is rising productivity, which lets factories produce more stuff with fewer workers, but cheap Chinese imports have also been a factor (see article). America’s resentment of China has grown as its economy sputters while China’s has galloped ahead. Barack Obama has pinned his hopes for recovery on a doubling of exports, a goal that China’s many barriers to trade, from discriminatory government procurement to the undervalued yuan, impede.
参议院刚刚通过了与哥伦比亚、韩国、巴拿马的双边贸易协定,现在又在威胁要增加对华贸易壁垒,这看起来似乎有点矛盾。但第一次签订那些合约已是四五年前的事了,随着美国中产阶级制造业就业率的降低,在过去的十年中,公众对自由贸易已渐失信心。造成就业率下降的主要原因是生产力的提高,这使得工厂可以用更少的工人生产更多的产品,但廉价的中国进口产品也是一个影响因素(见文章)。当美国的经济跌跌撞撞,而中国的经济却飞奔向前时,美国对中国的怨恨与日俱增。奥巴马将恢复经济的希望寄予出口额的翻倍,而中国的许多贸易壁垒,从政府的歧视性采购到人民币低估,都阻碍了这一目标的达成。

America has legitimate beefs with China, but this bill is the wrong way to address them. It is legally flawed, economically dangerous and unnecessary. Were it ever to reach Mr Obama’s desk, he should veto it. Start with the legal flaws. The rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) generally do not recognise undervalued currencies as an illegal subsidy. Currencies are considered part of a country’s monetary sovereignty, to be dealt with, if at all, by the International Monetary Fund. The odds are that if America imposed tariffs on China under the bill’s provisions, China could successfully bring a complaint against America at the WTO.
美国对中国有抱怨,这是无可厚非的,但要用这个议案来解决问题就不妥了。这项议案不仅在法律上有缺陷,从经济角度来讲,也是一项不必要的危险决议。当它呈递到奥巴马的办公桌上时,奥巴马应该否决它。先来说说关于法律缺陷这一点:总体上,WTO的条例中并不把货币低估看作是一种不合法的补贴。货币政策被看作是国家金融主权的一部分,即使要管理,也应该由国际货币基金组织出面。如果美国按照这项议案的规定向中国施加关税,中国很有可能成功地在WTO告倒美国。

By the time the WTO rules, the American firms lobbying for protection from Chinese imports will doubtless have enjoyed several years of it. But American consumers will have suffered by being denied cheap products, and China will almost certainly have retaliated. Therein lies the greatest danger. This bill would escalate tensions between China and America, and risk sparking a trade war. It is broad enough to be wielded against other countries, which may mimic America’s tactics against China or each other. It would wallop global investor and business confidence at a time when both are scarce.
毫无疑问,在WTO做出裁决之前,那些寻求保护以避免中国进口产品影响的公司将享有几年的恩惠。但是美国消费者将买不到廉价的产品,并且中国几乎毫无疑问要发动报复,而这就是最大的危险所在。这项议案将使中美两国间的紧张局势升级,并且可能引发一场贸易战争。议案的条例足够宽泛,也可用于对付其他国家。这些国家可能也会模仿美国的策略来抵抗中国或他们彼此之间互相抵抗。这项议案对本已低迷的全球投资者和商业信心又是一次打击。

If jittery politicians are looking for another argument to sway sceptical voters, how about this? The problems this bill purports to address are already being resolved. The Economist has long argued that a flexible yuan is in the interests of both China and its trading partners. It would hasten the reorientation of China’s economy from exports to consumer spending, give its central bank more freedom to fight inflation, and divert demand to depressed Europe and America, catalysing an essential rebalancing of the global economy.
如果那些战战兢兢的政客正在寻找另一项理由来拉拢持怀疑态度的选民,那这项议案看起来似乎不错。但这项议案意在解决的问题已经被解决了。《经济学家》一直认为,人民币汇率的浮动对中国及其贸易伙伴都有帮助。它将加速中国经济由出口到内销的转向,为央行控制通胀创造空间,将需求转向萧条的欧美,最终促成全球经济的再平衡。

Belatedly, China recognises this. Since June last year the yuan has appreciated 7% against the dollar. The rise in China’s relative costs has been even greater given its higher inflation rate. With stimulative fiscal and monetary policy bolstering domestic demand, China’s current-account surplus has shrunk by two-thirds, from 10% of GDP in 2007. Meanwhile America’s trade deficit has narrowed, and manufacturing employment has stopped falling. All this means the yuan is far less undervalued than it was a few years ago—if at all.
中国对这一点却是后知后觉。从去年六月份开始,人民币兑美元升值了7%。考虑到通胀,中国商品的相对价格上升得更多。由于采用了刺激性的财政和货币政策来拉动内需,中国的经常账户盈余从2007年占GDP的10%下降了三分之二。同时,美国贸易逆差缩减,制造业就业率也不再下降。所有这些都表明,即使说人民币被低估了,那它被低估的程度也远不及几年前。

China, heal thyself
中国需自救

China is hardly blameless. Its tariffs may be low, but it lavishes subsidies on favoured domestic companies and discriminates against foreign ones, especially in sectors such as energy and transport, forcing them to surrender their technology and tolerating brazen intellectual-property theft. The yuan is still not a free-floating currency, and only seems to appreciate when tempers in Washington, DC, reach boiling point. Mr Obama should resist the protectionist impulses of Congress. But his job would be easier if China would offer him proof that gentler forms of persuasion bring results.
中国也不是毫无过错。中国的关税可能比较低,但中国对其宠爱的国内公司慷慨补助,歧视外国公司,迫使它们出让技术,并且对窃取知识产权这一厚颜无耻的行为视而不见,在能源、交通这样的部门,这种情况尤为严重。人民币仍然不是自由浮动的货币,并且貌似只会在美国政府忍无可忍的情况下才升值。奥巴马应该阻止国会的贸易保护冲动,但是如果中国能够证明更为温和的劝说可以奏效的话,奥巴马的日子会更好过一点。
from the print edition | Leaders


注:
countervailing duties 反补贴税
Countervailing duties (CVDs), also known as anti-subsidy duties, are trade import duties imposed under WTO Rules to neutralize the negative effects of subsidies. They are imposed after an investigation finds that a foreign country subsidizes its exports, injuring domestic producers in the importing country.From wikipedia
current-account surplus经常账户盈余
The current account is the sum of the balance of trade (exports minus imports of goods and services), net factor income (such as interest and dividends) and net transfer payments (such as foreign aid). From Wikipedia

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