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Trump’s follies presage more protectionism

来源:FT中文网    2018-03-08 06:50

        Donald Trump really is a protectionist. It is more than mere rhetoric. This is the lesson from last week’s announcement that he would sign an order this week imposing global tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.        唐纳德•特朗普(Donald Trump)是个不折不扣的保护主义者。这不是空话。上周美国方面宣布,特朗普将于本周签署一项命令,对进口钢材和铝材分别征收25%和10%的关税。
        These tariffs are not that important in themselves. But the rationale used to justify them, their proposed level and duration, the willingness to target close allies and the president’s statement that “trade wars are good and easy to win” must alarm all informed observers. This action is unlikely to be the end; it is more likely to be the beginning of the end of the rules-governed multilateral trading order that the US itself created.        这些关税本身不是那么重要。但其征收理由、拟征收水平及持续时间、打击亲密盟友的意图以及美国总统关于“贸易战是好事,赢得贸易战很容易”的言论一定会令评论界的有识之士忧心忡忡。美国不太可能就此止步;这更可能是由美国创造的受规则约束的多边贸易秩序走向终结的序曲。
        This may sound alarmist. It should not. True, the proposed actions target only a little over 2 per cent of US imports. If this is where they end, then the world — and the world economy — will surely take it in its stride. It is possible that, with someone as inconsistent as Mr Trump in charge, this is where it will end. But we cannot bet on it.        这听上去可能有些危言耸听。并非如此。诚然,拟议举措针对的产品仅占美国总进口额的2%多一点。如果美国就此作罢,那么整个世界——以及世界经济——一定能从容应对。也许,由于当权的特朗普如此反复无常,从此再无下文。但我们对此没有把握。
        One reason US protectionism is likely to spread is that the proposed action, explicitly intended to last a long time, will tax all users of steel and aluminium. These include industries that employ vastly more people than the 81,000 employed in the US basic steel industry. The users will suffer “negative effective protection”. One result will be that imported products made of steel and aluminium will become cheaper. The “solution” will surely be to put tariffs on imports of these products, too.        美国保护主义可能蔓延的一个原因是,这项明显要持续很久的拟议举措,将对钢材和铝材的所有使用者征税。相关行业的从业人员远多于美国钢铁业的工人(8.1万人)。这些用户将受到“负面有效保护”。结果之一将是进口的钢铁和铝制品将变得相对便宜。“解决的办法”肯定是对这些制成品的进口也加征关税。
        Another reason why this action could spread is that those adversely affected could retaliate against the US in other areas. In practice, however, it is more likely that they will take the US into the dispute settlement process of the World Trade Organization, while imposing so-called safeguard protection on steel and aluminium to forestall diversion of imports on to their markets. In this way, too, protection will spread.        这种保护主义举措可能蔓延的另一个原因是,那些受到不利影响的国家可能在其它领域对美国展开报复。不过在实践中,它们更可能将美国诉至世界贸易组织(World Trade Organization)的争端解决机制,同时针对钢铁和铝实施所谓的保护措施,以防止受影响的产品转而流入本国市场。这也是令保护主义措施蔓延的一种方式。
        A further reason for protectionism to spread is the US use of the national security loophole. The WTO does indeed allow a member to take “any action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests . . . taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations”. But, as Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, suggests: “It is entirely inappropriate to view any trade with Canada as a national security threat to the United States.” Yet once this loophole is used so irresponsibly by the US, of all countries, where might it stop?        保护主义蔓延的第三个原因是美国钻了国家安全的空子。世贸组织确实允许成员国“在战争时期或国际关系处于其它紧急状态时,采取任何必要举措保护其基本的安全利益”。然而,诚如加拿大外长克里斯蒂娅•弗里兰(Chrystia Freeland)所说的:“认为与加拿大的贸易对美国构成国家安全威胁是完全不适当的。”然而,一旦美国如此不负责任地利用这个空子针对所有国家,那何时才会收手?
        A crucial point is that this action is not about China, which accounts for less than 1 per cent of US steel imports. Its victims are friends and allies: Brazil, Canada, the EU, Japan and South Korea. Nor is it a measure taken against some form of unfair trade. This is a purely protectionist policy aimed at saving old industries. Yet, even on these terms, the rationale is feeble: US steel and aluminium production has been flat for years. If this action really makes sense to Mr Trump, what might not?        关键是,这项举措与中国关系不大,美国从中国进口的钢铁不及美国钢铁进口总量的1%。这一举措的受害者是美国的友邦及盟邦:巴西、加拿大、欧盟(EU)、日本及韩国。这项举措也并非针对某种不公平贸易。它纯粹是一项旨在拯救老工业的保护主义政策。然而,即便如此,其理由也站不住脚:美国的钢铁和铝产量多年来变动不大。如果特朗普认为这项举措合情合理,那他还有什么做不出来?
        For all these reasons, then, we should foresee more protectionist actions by the US and others. Yet a still more important reason exists for expecting this. Mr Trump seems to want a protectionist war. He is sure that a big country with large trade deficits must “win”. Furthermore, he believes those deficits are proof that the US has been taken for a ride by others. Both beliefs are economically ludicrous. Yes, the US might be less harmed than others in a protectionist war. But everybody, very much including the US, would be damaged by the Balkanisation of the global economy. In addition, it is wrong to view trade surpluses as the equivalent of a profit in business, as Mr Trump does. Imports are the goal of trade. Trade surpluses have no intrinsic merit.        因此,基于所有这些原因,我们应该预见到美国和其它国家会采取更多的保护主义措施。然而,还有一个更重要的理由让我们抱着这种预期。特朗普似乎想要发起一场保护主义战争。他确信,一个有着巨额贸易逆差的大国必须“赢”。此外,他认为,这些逆差表明,其它国家一直在占美国的便宜。这两种想法从经济上讲都很荒唐。诚然,倘若发生保护主义战争,美国受到的损害可能要比其它国家小。但包括美国在内的所有国家,都将因全球经济的“巴尔干化”(Balkanisation)而受损。另外,像特朗普那样将贸易顺差等同于商业利润是错误的。进口是贸易的目的。贸易顺差没有内在价值。
        Yet this action is ultimately justified by the strong belief that the US has been a victim of the machinations of others. One bit of evidence used to justify this sense of grievance is the idea that the US is “the least protectionist large economy in the world”. No summary measure of overall protection is ideal. But the least bad one is the weighted-average applied tariff. According to the WTO, Japan’s weighted average tariff in 2015 was 2.1 per cent, that of the US 2.4 per cent and the EU’s 3 per cent. These are very similar. China’s was 4.4 per cent, largely because it has been part of just one global negotiation: its accession to the WTO in 2001, when it was rightly still viewed as a developing country.        然而,若坚信美国一直是其它国家阴谋的受害者,这项举措就显得有道理。被用于证明这种委屈感合理的一点理由是,美国是“世界上保护主义程度最低的大型经济体”。没有一个理想的衡量整体保护主义程度的指标,“加权平均关税率”还算差强人意。世贸组织的数据显示,2015年日本的加权平均关税率为2.1%,美国为2.4%,欧盟为3%。这些国家的加权平均关税率相差不大。中国的加权平均关税率是4.4%,主要因为这是当年一场全球谈判的一部分:中国于2001年加入世贸组织,当时中国被恰当地定位为一个发展中国家。
        Some US policymakers refer instead to the “bound” tariff. On that basis, US protection is relatively low. But a simple average of bound tariffs — the ceilings a country has agreed upon its tariffs — tells one very little about its actual level of protection. Furthermore, the US has bound its tariffs at low levels to obtain concessions from others, notably protection of its intellectual property.        一些美国政策制定者则倾向于使用“约定”关税概念。以这个指标衡量,美国的保护主义程度相对较低。但是,约定关税的简单平均数反映不出实际的保护主义程度。此外,美国将其关税限制在较低水平,以此获得其它国家的让步,尤其是在保护其知识产权方面。
        The other grievance is over trade deficits. But these are macroeconomic phenomena, not the result of trade policy. Mr Trump has just signed into law a large increase in the US structural fiscal deficit. Other things equal, this is sure to increase the trade deficit. This will be particularly true if, as the administration hopes, its tax cuts fuel a large rise in US private investment, while government deficits rise. Does the left hand of US policymaking understand what the right hand is doing? It appears not.        另一个不满是针对贸易逆差。但这些是宏观经济现象,而不是贸易政策的结果。特朗普最近签署了一项法律,同意大幅增加美国的结构性财政赤字。假定其它情况不变的话,这肯定会导致美国的贸易逆差增长。如果像美国政府期望的那样,减税刺激了美国私人投资的大幅增长,同时政府赤字则在上升,那么贸易逆差扩大就更是确定无疑的了。在美国的政策制定机制中,左手明白右手在做什么吗?似乎并没有。
        The International Monetary Fund is right to criticise this plan. It will impose substantial costs, disrupt alliances and surely lead to yet more costly protectionism, by the US and others. It is a product of a characteristic blend of self-pity — the world is mean to us — and bombast — we can easily bully others into submission. The result is likely to be further shredding of the fragile fabric of global trade. Well done, Mr Trump.        国际货币基金组织(International Monetary Fund)批评了美国限制钢铝进口计划,这是对的。这一计划将造成巨大代价、影响同盟关系,并且必然会导致代价更高的保护主义措施,不管是出自美国还是其它国家之手。这是自怜和好大喜功两种心态相结合的典型产物——一方面认为世界对我们很刻薄,另一方面又认为我们能够轻易地迫使其它国家屈服。其结果可能是进一步撕裂全球贸易的脆弱结构。干得漂亮,特朗普。

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