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Conflict, Chaos and Confusion

Conflict, Chaos and Confusion

The Crisis in the International Trading System

William A. Kerr

After 15 years the WTO is not functioning as envisioned and is faced with many new trade challenges − climate change, terrorism, pandemics, genetically modified organisms, food safety − which it is ill-equipped to handle. Conflict, Chaos and Confusion sheds light on this deep and acute crisis, focusing on contentious and complex new trade issues and how they will affect international trade in the future.

Chapter 6: Dumping – One of Those Economic Myths

William A. Kerr

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics


Senator Max Baucus, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has sent a letter signed by 61 of the 100 U.S. senators to President Bush insisting that they would oppose any international trade agreement that weakened U.S. antidumping and other trade laws. US Embassy in Italy, 7 May 2001 1. ON MYTHS In popular culture there are what are known as urban myths.1 These are stories that are widely circulated and believed that, when subjected to close scrutiny and investigative research, are found to have no basis in fact. Another characteristic they share is that they tend to be persistent – parents are often mystified when their children relate as gospel an updated version of some long-forgotten story that was circulating when they were young. Frequently, the myth includes a mysterious bogeyman that adds to the tale’s enduring appeal. Urban myths often transcend national and cultural boundaries. For the most part, urban myths are harmless diversions that entertain and, in their telling, provide a vehicle that facilitates social interaction. In international trade law, however, there is a similar phenomenon of mythical proportions – dumping. Unlike its relatively benign urban counterpart, this economic myth imposes substantial costs on firms that engage in international commercial transactions, on taxpayers, and on consumers in importing countries. It wastes resources by encouraging rent seeking and requiring the preparation of complex legal arguments by both those bringing a case and the accused who must defend themselves. It allows governments to harass foreign firms. It reduces the...

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