Taking it personally: rethinking the effectiveness of tariffs

On September 16, 2013, an article from the Wall Street Journal, reports and discusses the new 6.5% tariff imposed by China on U.S. solar-panel materials. This is thought to be China’s retaliation for a tariff imposed last year on Chinese-made solar cells.

Washington enacted the tariffs after determining that the Chinese manufacturers were dumping the goods in the U.S., and had received illegal subsidies. China claims that the tariff is a result of the U.S. dumping of polysilicon in the Chinese market, which accounted for 36% of Chinese polysilicon imports in the first half of 2013. Although China fell short of  earlier threats of imposing tariffs as high as 57%, the new tariff could be detrimental to U.S. manufacturers, especially since China is currently the world’s largest producer of solar panels and has announced plans to increase production for the next three years.

My thinking goes to the motivation and effectiveness of tariffs. Including this case, it seems that in many instances when tariffs are imposed, the result is political tension and retaliation. Thus, it seems the motivation of imposing tariffs is not fully derived from an economic sense, but also increasingly from a pride/power perspective. The goal of the tariffs has deviated from a regulatory role, to a tool of political chess. In this China-U.S. case, China has allowed for its national solar panel business to take a hit by raising the input prices of polysilicon, albeit exempting three U.S. manufacturers who they cited as only having received minimal subsidies. With countries, especially China, quite willing to participate in tariff wars, perhaps this classic regulatory tool is losing its value in the face of the exponentially interconnected global economy.

This text was written and presented by Mr. Sho Shino, Student at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University in the course on International Business (STRT-261-01) on September 18th, 2013. You can contact the author here.

Visit to Taiwan

Professor Czinkota returned from a successful trip to Taiwan where he held discussions with the government on trade relations and export promotion. He also was honored by the invitation of the National Science Council (NSC) of Taiwan in recognition of his research contribution to export development. His keynote speech at the US Taiwan Commercial Council was titled “Turmoil in Academia:There is Sunshine above the Clouds”

Professor Czinkota with Vice Minister Cho

Professor Czinkota with Vice Minister Cho, Minstry of Economic Affairs

Professor Czinkota with Director General Tong

Professor Czinkota with Director General Tong, Department of International Cooperation

No More Silos! (Part 2)

Setting the Stage: Engagement in the Global Marketplace

Francisco Sanchez, the undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department who leads the International Trade Administration and heads up its work to improve the global marketplace and help U.S. firms compete overseas, opened the March 2013 meeting on trade policy and international marketing (View photos of the event here).

On the third anniversary of the National Export Initiative, which had anticipated a doubling of U.S. exports within five years, Sanchez told the group that everyone has to be engaged globally.

U.S. exports, with a volume of $2.2 trillion in 2012, support 10 million jobs, which typically tend to pay 18% more than jobs only for domestic production. In 2008, Sanchez stated, 47% of Americans saw trade as a major threat. In 2013, 55% see trade as a positive dimension. Sanchez sees a new U.S. trade emphasis on Africa and Brazil, and key emerging opportunities through transpacific and transatlantic partnerships. He views export promotion as a new form of economic development.

This article is a part of a series written by Michael Czinkota and Charles Skuba who report on the March 2013 meeting on trade policy and international marketing, a collaboration between the American Marketing Association, Georgetown University and the U.S. International Trade Administration. View part 1 hereGuest writer Charles Skuba teaches international business and marketing at Georgetown University. He served in the George W. Bush Administration in trade policy positions in the U.S. Department of Commerce.

No More Silos! (Part 1)

A March 2013 meeting on trade policy and international marketing – hosted by the American Marketing Association, Georgetown University, and the U.S. International Trade Administration – was designed to let fresh air into the mature structures of human activity, to understand what markets, customers and suppliers need, and to appreciate the interconnectedness. No more silos!

Why is international marketing of great importance?

For one, the opportunities are there: 95 % of the world’s population lives outside of the United States. We are facing a tipping point for emergent and growing demand from all of these people, and we need to compete for interest and purchases.

International marketing also represents a strong footstool with three legs— policy, business and academia—and our meeting addressed them simultaneously. We further reinforced these three legs by looking at issues from 17 country views. If you consider the issue of computer security from a U.S. and from a Chinese perspective, different viewpoints will emerge quite quickly. This tells us that unless we communicate and understand each other’s perspectives, there is little chance of making progress.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of when both the Commerce Department and the business and academic sectors first looked jointly at trade policy and international marketing. It made sense to revisit the area and to determine what we have learned, and where we need to go. These 25 years reflect a generation during which we had enormous innovations, the joining of new partners, the creation and burst of bubbles, particularly in the finance field, and a renewed emphasis on international collaboration. Subsequent posts will look at the issues that international policy and marketing leaders see as being of paramount importance.

This article is a part of a series written by Michael Czinkota and Charles Skuba who report on the March 2013 meeting on trade policy and international marketing, a collaboration between the American Marketing Association, Georgetown University and the U.S. International Trade Administration. Guest writer Charles Skuba teaches international business and marketing at Georgetown University. He served in the George W. Bush Administration in trade policy positions in the U.S. Department of Commerce.