Sunday, December 12, 2004

Flip Flop

So much for Republican free traders:

Eighteen days before the end of a 30 year-old system restricting international trade in textiles and apparel, the Bush administration is imposing new barriers on imported clothing that is likely to curtail an expected flood of Chinese imports in the first few months of next year.

The administration's measures include an embargo that will be imposed throughout the month of January on some of the clothing shipped to the United States during the final months of 2004.

The new rules, scheduled to be published today in the Federal Register, were posted in recent days on a government Web site. Word of their impending imposition has stirred anger among clothing retailers and importers, who contend that the barriers contravene an international agreement to open the worldwide textile trade starting in 2005. Administration officials counter that the measures are justified because the amount of clothing shipped from some foreign countries in 2004 exceeded legal limits.

For the record, I'm roughly a free trader to the extent that means removing tariffs and quotas, though not in the sense that I support a lot of the "free trade" agreements which aren't really that and the attack on "non-tariff barriers" which are an excuse for all kinds of mischieviousness.