Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The U.S. Has More than 12,000 Tariffs

Most Americans think of the U.S. as a free-trade country with open markets, and countries like China and Japan as protectionist countries with closed markets. And yet the U.S. is quite protectionist, when we consider that there are more than 12,000 tariffs (i.e. taxes) on imported products that are sometimes as high as 350% in the case of tobacco (pictured above); 164% on peanuts; 100% on jam, chocolate and ham; and 48% on sneakers, see the 25 American Products That Rely On Huge Protective Tariffs To Survive, and read a short accompanying article.

HT: Juandos

19 Comments:

At 9/29/2010 6:02 AM, Blogger geoih said...

12,000 tariffs. Remember that next time somebody starts talking about how free trade and less regulation have created our present economic problems.

 
At 9/29/2010 8:29 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Could there be there merest breeze of common sense wafting through the halls of Congress or is there some scary writings on the wall that prompted this action?

Steve Gilbert writes, 'From a dejected Washington Post':
Dem ‘Protectionism’ Bill Fails In Senate

 
At 9/29/2010 9:08 AM, Blogger Dr William J McKibbin said...

Interesting -- I did not know this...

 
At 9/29/2010 9:09 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

how did sugar not make that list?

 
At 9/29/2010 9:20 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"how did sugar not make that list?"...

morganovich maybe sugar has been on the list for such a long time it doesn't need new consideration...

Consider perusing the United States International Trade Commission site (a whole lot of stuff there!!) to see what's what...

I used the search tool for sugar and got 727 Results Returned...

 
At 9/29/2010 9:57 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

The Tariff Act of 1930 (Smoot-Hawley) imposed a high point in U.S. duties on imports of 59.1%. Based on the article presented does anyone care to extrapolate what the average tariff on imports into the U.S. are?

For 2008:

Imports into U.S. totaled two trillion dollars.

Duties (tariffs) collected 26 billion dollars.

From the peak of 1932 (59.1%) tariffs have steadily declined to 4%.

The examples presented in the article are weird anomalies and so is the U.S. protectionist? Very, very slightly and with decreases every year.

 
At 9/29/2010 10:10 AM, OpenID kapitalisten said...

I bet you are not among the most regulated - Look at Norway (where I live), Switzerland and Iceland. as I wrote on my blog (www.odetocapitalism.com) earlier in response to this post:

"In Norway the parliament slap a 555 % custom duty on imported chicken and about 400 % tax on imported meat and milk. We destroy overproduced eggs, farmers demand higher prices on meat when they manufacture more than the consumers want to buy - and every family pays about 143 USD (800 NOK - total: 1 Billion NOK) in subsidies to exported our national cheese Jarlsberg." - 12 Billion NOK is spent on subsidizing farmers over the national budget in Norway.. Not very consumer friendly! Thanks for inspiring posts here, Perry!

 
At 9/29/2010 10:14 AM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Buddy R Pacifico: "Imports into U.S. totaled two trillion dollars. Duties (tariffs) collected 26 billion dollars."

The seen versus the unseen. 26 billion was just the amount that was actually imported. Who knows how much isn't imported because of tariffs (sugar is a perfect example).

 
At 9/29/2010 10:48 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

geo-

that's a very good point.

the majority of damage from tariffs is from trade that does not occur and the higher prices that result.

just measuring the value of tariffs collected does not tell us much, nor does comparing that to the size of trade.

if we imposed 500% import duty on all products, i bet we could get tariffs collected to approach zero.

that would not be a sign that protectionism was abating.

 
At 9/29/2010 10:53 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

geoih, slight quibble in that two trillion was just the amount imported and 24 billion was the amount colledted in tariffs.

 
At 9/29/2010 12:59 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Hmmm.

Let's see. We print money, and others trade us goods/services for our paper.

Should we slap on tariffs, or go all-in and just buy everything from offshore?

Maybe if we raised tariffs enough, and printed gobs of money, we could financed the federal government through tariffs.

No more federal income taxes! Nirvana!

 
At 9/29/2010 5:43 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

This is another example of why the US has to decline and why the real economy is doomed.

 
At 9/29/2010 6:16 PM, Blogger sbw said...

MP, I appreciate the pointer to the tariffed items and the percentages, but I find the mercantilist harangue that follows to be unpersuasive. As you frequently reinforce, if you tax something, you get less of it -- We heavily tax employing people, energy, and business itself.

And we blame others for our failure? Please!

 
At 9/29/2010 6:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"As you frequently reinforce, if you tax something, you get less of it -- We heavily tax employing people, energy, and business itself"...

Good point sbw but then again we have the government we deserve...:-)

 
At 9/30/2010 2:09 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

just measuring the value of tariffs collected does not tell us much, nor does comparing that to the size of trade.

It does give us a glimpse at how at the enormity of at least part of the deadweight loss and it does tell us that Americans overpaid by at least $26 (or is it $24?) billion dollars for those goods.

 
At 9/30/2010 2:24 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Methinks,

the total duties collected was 26 billion dollars.

About 70% of the total is duty free so when a consumer buys an import it would usually be duty free.

 
At 10/01/2010 2:35 PM, Blogger geoih said...

Quote from Buddy R Pacifico: "About 70% of the total is duty free so when a consumer buys an import it would usually be duty free."

So we're only being robbed 30% of the time. Is that your argument in favor of tariffs?

 
At 10/01/2010 3:31 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

So we're only being robbed 30% of the time. Is that your argument in favor of tariffs?

It gets worse. The problem, as others have pointed out, is how tariffs affect different segments of society. If you look at consumption based on the economic quartile one belongs to you will find that tariffs hurt the poor a lot more. They tend to spend a greater proportion of their total income on items like fruits and vegetables, tobacco, auto parts, tires, shoes, clothing, etc. The fact that I can bring in a guzheng without paying duty does not help the poor guy who has to spend much more for peanuts, cans of tuna, or cigarettes.

 
At 3/09/2011 3:45 PM, Blogger James said...

The Tariff Act of 1930 (Smoot-Hawley) imposed a high point in U.S. duties on imports of 59.1%.

No!

The Tariff of 1828 was the highest at 62% . From 1861 to 1913 tariffs ranged between 40 and 50%. The huge economic growth we had during that time should cast doubt on the claim made by free traders that tariffs prevent economic growth.

Before Smoot-Hawley passed tariffs were at 40 percent. From 1800 to 1900 tariffs averaged 30%. The Smoot-Hawley tariffs did not last long. The went into effect in June 1931, well after the decline in trade started, and when Roosevelt took over he started reducing them with the Trade Agreements act of 1934.

While there may be 12,000 tariffs the revenue from them is small. Before the income tax (1913) tariffs were a major source of revenue.

 

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