American Steel Tariffs

We have global over-production of steel. So the mighty USA puts up tariff barriers to prevent cheap steel coming in. The American steel workers and industry wanted more, the Europeans wanted none. It might be legel under WTO rules, it might not. It might spark a new trade war, in which the poor lose out yet again, or it might not.

But there is a deeper principle that few commentators have yet to consider. A different way of looking at the situation, that might help us understand it better. It might or might not solve this bout of the problem, but it might help in the future.

The Principle

The powerful should not be selfish, they should be generous.

The USA is the world power. It has some responsibility as a world leader. Indeed, it acknowledges this in seeing itself as global law-maker and policeman (e.g. with regard to terrorism), and there is some justification for this.

Therefore it is wrong for it to see itself as in competition with other nations, as it does in steel production, and put up barriers. It is wrong for America to isolate itself. To do these things is to treat itself, not as a world leader but as just one among many small nations.

America is fleeing its rightful responsibility.

Instead, the USA should be generous. If there is global over-production in anything that America is producing, then it should let some of its own production go, and turn its national effort and resources to things that others are not doing.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2001.

Last updated: 6 March 2002