What freedoms have you lost this week?
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents. This column attempts to summarize the highlights (or lowlights) of the Federal Register during the preceding week.
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APRIL 28, 2003:
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ' IMPORT LIMITS ON FOREIGN TEXTILES
These directives, set by the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), impose import limits on cotton, wool, and man-made fiber textiles produced or manufactured in various foreign countries.
These policies, implemented to 'protect' domestic textile producers, ultimately harm domestic consumers and foreign producers alike. By restricting the free trade between consenting parties, these policies lead to higher prices for consumers.
It's as if the bureaucrats are encouraging production inefficiency. Or, perhaps they just think we are too stupid to make our own decisions regarding what we buy.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITC) ' COUNTERVAILING DUTIES ON ALLOY MAGNESIUM FROM CANADA
In this notice, the ITC determined that the government of Canada provided a 7.00% net subsidy rate for alloy magnesium produced by Magnola Metallurgy of Quebec. As a result, they imposed a 7.00% countervailing duty on future shipments of Magnola alloy to the United States.
The ITC imposes countervailing duties to protect domestic industries from economic harm caused by subsidized imports. Of course, no mention is made of the economic harm borne by consumers due to the government-imposed duties.
In this case, the domestic beneficiary is U.S. Magnesium, LLC of Salt Lake City, Utah ' the company that petitioned for the duty.
One of the leading applications for magnesium alloys is structural integrity, especially die-casting. The automobile industry is a premier market where this demand is expanding. In fact, the use of magnesium alloy parts allows vehicle weight to be reduced and therefore decreases gas consumption and emissions.
Unfortunately, these duties make the alloy more expensive for domestic automakers and other businesses that use them.
Paradoxically, the same government that requires domestic auto manufacturers to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions is making it more expensive for them to meet these demands. How ironic.
APRIL 29, 2003:
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION ON STEEL WIRE HANGER IMPORTS FROM CHINA
In a memorandum dated April 25, 2003, President Bush determined that 'providing import relief for the U.S. wire hanger industry is not in the national economic interest of the United States.' This was in response to the International Trade Commission's decision to provide protectionist relief to domestic hanger makers who have suffered 'significant material injury' due to the cheaper Chinese imports.
Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974 established permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China, a move aimed to assuage protectionist fears by establishing a special 'safeguard' to deal with increased imports from China for the first twelve years after China's entry into the World Trade Organization.
Under this provision, the President has the authority to grant or deny import relief to domestic producers when the ITC renders an affirmative finding to impose import quotas.
President Bush made the right decision in this case. Unfortunately, his track record thus far has not favored free trade, as he has imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber, foreign steel, and other imports.
APRIL 30, 2003:
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK (Proc. 7667)
President Bush proclaims April 27 to May 3, 2003, as National Volunteer Week, and asks all Americans to 'to dedicate at least 4,000 hours over the rest of their lives to serving their neighbors and their Nation.'
It is estimated that the average American family pays around 40% of their total annual income in taxes ' more than they pay for food, clothing, and shelter ' COMBINED.
Perhaps Americans would have more free time to voluntarily help others in their community if they were not involuntarily compelled to work for Uncle Sam five months out of the year.
MAY 1, 2003:
CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION BUREAU (CBP) ' TARIFF RATE QUOTA FOR TUNA FISH
This document sets forth the tariff rate quota for tuna in the 2003 calendar year. The 2003 tariff-rate quota is applicable to 'tuna fish entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption during the period January 1 through December 31, 2003.'
According to the CBPR, 'It has now been determined that 18,777,508 kilograms of tuna fish in airtight containers may be entered for consumption or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption during calendar year 2003 at the rate of 6 percent ad valorem under subheading 1604.14.22, Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).'
Additionally, 'Any tuna fish otherwise described in subheading 1604.14.22, HTSUS, which is entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption during calendar year 2003 in excess of that quota will be classifiable under subheading 1604.14.30, HTSUS, and dutiable at the rate of 12.5 percent ad valorem.'
In layman's terms, all imported tuna consumed in the United States during 2003 will have a 6% tariff imposed, while any tuna that exceeds the government allowed import quota will have a 12.5% tariff.
Of course, this means higher prices for you at the supermarket, as domestic producers will simply increase prices just enough to take advantage of the government-provided subsidy while remaining competitive with the disadvantaged imports.
Apparently, tuna fish imports are now a security hazard, as the CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security. Perhaps the bureaucrats fear a future attack via the clandestine infiltration of foreign tuna production facilities by fanatical terrorists planting biological and chemical weapons in the imported tuna cans.
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