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AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES: EVERYONE’S DOING IT

agricultural subsidies

AGRICULTURAL SUBSIDIES: EVERYONE’S DOING IT

Everybody’s Subsidizing

$700 billion every year – that’s how much governments worldwide provide in some form of subsidy to their agricultural sectors. Researchers behind the OECD’s “Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation 2020” report found that the 54 countries studied (all OECD and EU countries, plus 12 key emerging economies) provide over $700 billion a year in total support to the agricultural sector. The vast majority of this, $536 billion, is in the form of payments to producers; the rest takes the form of consumer support and enabling services such as infrastructure investment or research and development.

Subsidies are in part, a recognition of the unique challenges that the agriculture sector faces – and the important role it plays in our society by ensuring food security. Farming is highly weather dependent and extremely vulnerable to uncontrollable events such as natural disaster. Agriculture also requires significant investment from producers in expensive equipment, inputs and labor before any profit can be made, and faces an obvious time delay between shifts in demand and supply.

700 billion

However, agricultural subsidies can also have trade-distorting effects. For this reason, they are the basis of many international disputes. In the recently negotiated U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement agricultural subsidies played a key role: Canadian dairy subsidies were perhaps the biggest agriculture-related sticking point for the U.S., and Mexican tomato subsidies continue to cause tensions. Across the globe Brazil, Australia and Guatemala have disputed India’s subsidies to its sugar industry.

The complaint from least developed countries is that global subsidies disproportionately disadvantage their small producers, whose own governments cannot provide the same support, leaving them unable to compete with the heavily-subsidized farms of richer countries. Communities say that foreign products, such as European milk, are flooding their markets, crippling local herders and farmers and leaving consumers vulnerable to price changes.

The United States has borne the brunt of criticism for its agricultural subsidies. American farmers receive billions in support. However, when measured as a percentage of total farm revenues, South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia and the EU all provide producer support above the global average of 12 percent, whereas the United States, along with Russia, Canada, and Mexico have historically been at or below this average.

China more than

Who Subsidizes the Most?

The tables below show the largest subsidizers ordered by total spending, and by percentage of gross farm revenues, according to the data collected by the OECD. Smaller countries like Norway, Iceland and Switzerland top the tables when it comes to support as a percentage of gross farm revenue at 57.6 percent, 54.6 percent and 47.4 percent respectively. The United States does not even make the top 10 on this measure, with total producer support calculated at 12.08 percent.

In terms of total spend, China, the EU, and United States comprise the top three. However, China spends almost four times as much as the United States, and more than the next three biggest spenders – the EU, United States and Japan – combined.

ag subsidies tables

Exactly how and to whom subsidies are dispensed differs widely by country, as do the goals of agricultural subsidy programs. Here we look at a few of the biggest subsidizers: China, the United States, Japan, and the EU, as well as the case of New Zealand, a nation with virtually none.

The United States

Throughout most of its early history, the United States did not subsidize agriculture. A nation largely founded by farmers and land workers held agriculture in high esteem, but was determined that no other group should be taxed to fund another. However, the Great Depression of the early 1900s and the presidencies of Hoover and Roosevelt reversed this. Hoover established the Federal Farm Board which fixed market prices for certain produce, inducing excess production of the supported items. Roosevelt supported the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA), which paid farmers not to produce in order to reduce agricultural surpluses.

In 2019, OECD data show that the United States provided agricultural support of over $48 billion, however, close to half of this was in the form of support to consumers through nutrition assistance programs. Federal support to agriculture has shifted and changed with various administrations, with the five-year Farm Bill being the primary legislative vehicle used to implement changes to the “farm safety net“, including government subsidies.

Under the rules of the WTO the United States, along with other developed countries, agreed to set limits on spending. The U.S. limit is $19.1 billion on certain types of “market distorting“ support. However, the latest data shows that direct support to farmers in 2019 was the highest it has been in 14 years, at around $22 billion, leading to questions about whether the United States exceeded its annual limit on “amber box” spending.

This spike is largely attributed to recent ad-hoc compensation to farmers, unrelated to the Farm Bill and initiated by the Trump administration, to compensate farmers for unforeseen losses. To make up for lower prices and lost sales caused by the U.S.-China trade war, the U.S. government committed billions in dollars to farmers in 2018 and 2019 through the Market Facilitation Program. When COVID-19 hit, and the administration implemented another program – the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program – to help farmers stay afloat despite disrupted supply chains. All in all, government payments to farmers are projected to reach as high as $37.2 billion in 2020.

China 4x more

China

China began subsidizing agriculture in earnest relatively recently but has quickly become the world’s biggest subsidizer by dollar amount. Formerly the nation’s primary source of employment, the Chinese government for years taxed agriculture to support urban populations. In 2004, China first implemented subsidies to protect rural workers from foreign competition. Although it has now evolved into a manufacturing economy, roughly half the labor force is still employed in agriculture, with lower living standards than their urban counterparts. The Chinese government subsidizes rural farmers to prevent political instability, while bolstering the production of particular crops to reduce reliance on foreign produce, such as U.S. soybeans.

China’s agricultural subsidies have ruffled the feathers of other world powers, particularly the United States, which won a WTO case against the country’s unfair wheat and rice subsidies. The U.S. Trade Representative complained that Chinese subsidies undercut U.S. producers exporting their produce to China’s vast market. The WTO panel investigating the issue found that in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, “China provided domestic support… in the form of market price support to producers of wheat, Indica rice and Japonica rice in excess of its commitment level of “nil””. Disagreements over subsidies remain a sticking point in the U.S.-China trade war.

China may be beginning to scale back its subsidies. After two decades of steady growth, the OECD data show that China’s share of gross farm receipts going to support producers has started to decline in the last two years. Given its astronomical spending it will take a long time for China’s spending to approach anything on par with the European Union, let alone the United States.

line charts on China spend

Japan

Japan’s agricultural subsidies as a share of gross farm revenues are two times above the OECD average, at 41.3 percent, remaining high despite over a decade of cutting back. About 80 percent of the support is in the form of market price support, artificially keeping prices at a certain level, which is achieved mainly by border controls for rice, milk and pork.

In their discussion paper for the International Food Policy Research Institute, Yoshihisa Godo and Daisuke Takahashi outline Japan’s unique subsidy landscape. Most Japanese farmers farm as a secondary business and have another stable source of income, yet they receive the same benefits as full-time farmers, without feeling the same need to innovate and compete. The political pressure these small plot farmers yield gives them much sway over farmland use regulations and other policies that benefit them, such as income compensation programs.

These issues result in inefficiency and a lack of productivity, helping to explain why Japan is the only country with a declining food self-sufficiency rate, entrenching established interests and driving away young potential farmers.

This puts Japan’s heavy agricultural protection in a category of its own. Whereas the action of heavy-subsidizers like Europe and the United States increase their agricultural output – in Japan it has decreased. This may help to explain why Japan is becoming more willing to reduce tariffs on agricultural goods, pledging to cut back such tariffs on pork and beef in their recent free trade agreements with the EU, United States and UK.

The European Union

Since 2010, government support to agriculture in the EU has been stable at around 19 percent. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is an extensive EU-wide policy and their largest budget item, accounting for around 40 percent of the annual budget. It aims to support farmers, improve productivity, and safeguard the livelihoods of European farmers, while improving sustainability and protecting rural land. The EU’s outline of the CAP explains that farming requires special protections given its distinctness from other productive activities, such as its reliance on the weather and time delays. The CAP provides three forms of protection: income support through direct payments to farmers; market measures to combat price or demand drops; and rural development.

The centrally organized system however lends itself to opacity and corruption in the distribution of these subsidies in some member states where populist governments are able to capture the benefits and use them to reward friends and punish enemies. The burdensome administration process and system that doles out cash based on the amount of land-owned is also proving to be a roadblock for young farmers who access their land through non-conventional contracts or seek to start small – meaning they miss out on subsidies that are propping up their larger competitors.

Subsidies are also forming a key part of the UK-EU Brexit negotiations. UK farmers will lose out on billions of dollars of EU agricultural subsidies when the country breaks with the bloc, which will be a huge challenge for the government and the country’s farmers who will see a phasing out of subsidies they rely on to keep their farms afloat. But it will also provide an opportunity for them to take a new approach that rewards farmers who incorporate good environmental practices.

India and What’s Hidden in the Data

India is notably absent from these tables given that they are the world’s largest producer of milk, pulses and spices and second largest producer of rice, wheat and fruit among many others. They are undeniably an agricultural super power, so is it that they don’t subsidize? No, they definitely do, but the answer is a bit more complicated.

Indian farmers are aided by direct payments and large subsidies for inputs, such as irrigation water, power and fertilizers. Producers in India receive support corresponding to about 7.8 percent of gross farm receipts, as well as market price support of 2 percent. If we only take into account the positive support, India is subsidizing agriculture by over $11 billion. However, this is offset in the OECD data by what they term India’s negative market price support, which reflects the amount that domestic producers are implicitly taxed due to a series of complex domestic regulations and trade policy that more than offsets any gains they receive from subsidies to the tune of $77 billion, a -14.8 percent hit in terms of farm receipts.

Generally, developed countries such as OECD member countries have very low values for this negative market price support category, sometimes even zero. But other countries with restrictive domestic and trade policy – such as Argentina and Vietnam, which have negative support values of $11.4 and $5.2 billion respectively – hurt their producers in this way.

A World Without Subsidies? Just Look to New Zealand

Not all wealthy, agriculture driven countries rely on subsidies, however. Australia and New Zealand’s agricultural supports are just 1.85 and 0.7 percent of their gross farm revenues respectively. New Zealand in particular is a fascinating case. Its low agricultural support may be surprising given New Zealand is five times more dependent on farming than the United States.

In 1984 New Zealand’s government ended all farm subsidies, which at the time represented around 30 percent of the value of farm production. Despite fear and protests at the time, around twenty years after the action just one percent of farms had gone out of business and the value of farm output increased by 40 percent. By reacting to competitive pressure and consumer demand, cutting costs, and innovating, New Zealand farmers were able to rebuke the argument that agriculture needed government support to survive.

Effects of the “New Subsidizers”

Certain types of agricultural subsidies have trade-distorting effects, but their historical use among the biggest and wealthiest agricultural exporting countries provoked a “they’re doing it, so we should too” response. The biggest growth in subsidy use over the last decade has been among the fast-growing emerging economies such as China, India, and Turkey, clearly seen in the data from the OECD.

Given differing WTO rules on agricultural subsidies for developed versus developing countries, and the significant amount of spending particularly by China, this shift is important to recognize to both break old perceptions of who subsidizes and to ensure that new baselines are used to negotiate future rules on agricultural subsidies.

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Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

elections

THE ANTI-FREE TRADE EFFECT OF ELECTIONS

Do As I Say?

Trade rarely ranks high for voters in the election booth – so why do we seem to see an uptick in anti-trade sentiment around election time? And does protectionist rhetoric during the campaign season influence politicians’ actual voting behavior on trade?

Evidence, both anecdotal and academic, suggests yes – term length and the electoral calendar play a key role in determining the outcome of votes on trade policy. Members of Congress tend to believe that supporting more protectionist trade policy will increase their chances of re-election. Conversely, without that fear of repercussions at the ballot box, politicians vote in favor of more liberal trade policy.

In the words of economist Dani Rodrik, “no other area of economics displays such a gap between what policymakers practice and what economists preach as does international trade.” There are many examples of normally pro-trade politicians shifting their views around election time.

For example, in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama attacked NAFTA despite going on to go all-in on free-trade in his presidency. Similarly, in the 2016 Toomey vs. McGinty Pennsylvania Senate race, both formerly free-trade politicians changed their tune to try to appeal to more voters. Beyond the anecdotes, a group of economists has sought to study the pattern over years of trade votes in the United States.

A Study into Economic Policy and Elections

In their 2011 paper “Policymakers’ Horizon and Trade Reforms,” Paola Conconi, Giovanni Facchini, and Maurizio Zanardi attempted to empirically answer the question: Do imminent elections impact the decision-making and voting behavior of elected officials on issues related to trade?

Conconi, Facchini, and Zanardi compared the voting behavior of candidates facing an upcoming re-election contest with those who had a long term ahead of them. Senators are up for election every six years (meaning that every two years, one-third of all seats are up) whereas U.S. House members face election every two years. This vote log provides many data points that show changes in behavior of individuals over time, at different points in the election cycle.

The authors analyzed the individual roll call votes on the final passage of every trade liberalization bill introduced in the U.S. Congress between 1973 and 2005. They considered 29 votes in total, covering 15 trade reform bills. All but one of the bills was approved but with varying margins.

Closer to Re-Election, Free Trade Voting Tendency Drops 10 Percent Points

First, the authors compared House and Senate members. Other studies have shown that House members are generally less likely to support trade liberalization than senators, and the authors’ results align with this. However, the authors found that there is no significant difference in the voting behavior between House members and senators during their last two years before re-election. This suggests that the intercameral difference between the two groups could be explained by their term length, rather than other factors such as constituency size.

Next, they compared different generations of senators, finding that they become more protectionist the closer they get to a re-election campaign. Senators in the last two years of their term are around 10 percentage points less likely to vote in favor of trade liberalization policies than those in their first four years, a significant difference. Interestingly, Banri Ito, in his 2015 paper, used data from the Japanese House of Representatives election in 2012 to find similar results, indicating this is not purely an American phenomenon.

Probability of Vote for Trade Reform

Safe Seat, Retirement or Election Defeat Associated with Free Trade Vote

Their results hold when studying the behavior of the same senator over time or comparing a whole host of controls including campaign contributions, age, gender, and party affiliation. Even those representing constituencies where a majority of their voters should benefit significantly from trade liberalization, such as heavy exporting constituencies, exhibit the same late-term protectionist tendencies.

In contrast, senators who are retiring or who hold very safe seats do not change their behavior as an election nears. Interestingly, two of the votes they tracked occurred in a “lame duck” session (after November elections but before the new senators had taken their seats). In those votes, no defeated senators voted against trade liberalization.

Overall, the Conconi, Facchini, and Zanardi study showed:

-Members of the U.S. House are more anti-trade liberalization than U.S. Senators, but that difference disappears during the last two years of a senator’s term.

-Election proximity reduces representatives’ support for trade.

-The protectionist effect applies both to senators who generally oppose liberalization (Democrats and import-competing constituencies) but also to senators who are generally more pro-trade (Republicans and export-competing constituencies).

-The inter-generational differences disappear for representatives holding safe seats or who are retiring (meaning a return to votes in favor of trade liberalization).

10 point drop

Anecdotal Evidence – Trade and Elections Today

Although far from sufficient to draw any concrete conclusions, anecdotal evidence does appear to corroborate findings from the Conconi, Facchini, and Zanardi study. We can find numerous examples of U.S. politicians changing their views on trade when the re-election stakes are high.

When votes on significant trade deals are on the table, trade has featured in congressional races, but in presidential races, trade is often a footnote or subsumed by debates over the state of the economy broadly. However, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign signified a marked change as he made trade a central part of his platform. In 2016, both Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton took a negative stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and Trump against NAFTA. Notably, as Secretary of State, Clinton had defended TPP as the “gold standard” of trade agreements, but expressed a different view during election season.

In the 2016 Pennsylvania Senate Race, support of the TPP became an extremely important issue between two politicians with records of trade-liberalization support. Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat rival Katie McGinty both came out against the TPP, despite the former’s career-spanning support of free-trade deals, and the latter’s support of the then newly-signed NAFTA while she served in Bill Clinton’s administration.

Similarly, Republican Ohio Senator Robert Portman, who voted in support of NAFTA in 1993, a series of subsequent trade deals, and served as George W. Bush’s chief trade negotiator, came out against the TPP. Democratic rivals called the announcement an election-year conversion.

Some politicians even admit to changing their views due to the political climate. Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) who went from supporting various free trade deals with China to opposing them, called his own reversal on the issue a reaction to changing political pressure.

As for the 2020 election, Biden and Trump both cite trade as a critical issue, saying that U.S. trade policy has not been benefiting Americans as it should. Biden seems to have moved away from his past pro-free trade stance, and both candidates are advocating for Buy American policies.

DNC & RNC Platforms

Both the Republican and Democratic parties have taken on a protectionist bent ahead of the 2020 election, and in fact the platforms seem remarkably similar. Both the Democratic and Republican platforms emphasize the need to protect American workers from a competitive international system, with free trade and trade agreements taking a back seat. The Republican party is doubling down on its 2016 goals to punish China and bring outsourced jobs back to the United States, while the Democratic party touts the same goals, but proposes a new solution.

Democratic Party

In the 2020 Democratic Party Platform, any talk of free trade is notably absent, apart from a brief mention of support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and promoting free trade in that region. Instead, when trade is mentioned the focus is on China’s unfair trade practices and on the need to protect American workers from the global trading system.

The platform states that “Democrats will pursue a trade policy that puts workers first,” negotiating for labor, human rights, and environmental standards in trade agreements. They cite the COVID-19 pandemic as evidence that the United States has over-relied on global supply chains, but criticize the Trump Administration’s U.S.-China trade war as un-winnable. On the issue of China, the Democratic party plans to take aggressive action against them, and any other country that takes unfair trade action such as dumping, currency manipulation, and unfair subsidizing, as well as theft of U.S. intellectual property. The platform states that tax and trade policies that have encouraged corporations to move manufacturing jobs overseas and avoid taxes will be eliminated. They will “claw back” any public investments or benefits received by a company that shuts down U.S. operations to move abroad.

The DNC’s discussion of “Global Economy and Trade” and “Advancing American Interests” focuses yet again on putting American workers first. They claim that no new trade agreement will be negotiated before first investing in American competitiveness, and existing trade laws and agreements will be aggressively enforced. They plan to work with allies to stand up to China, and negotiate from the strongest possible position. An outline is also given of their stance to fight foreign corruption, and to reign in “misused and overused” sanctions.

trade platforms

Republican Party

The Republican party decided to forgo a traditional platform this year, instead opting to “to enthusiastically support the president’s America-first agenda”. However, the party also agreed to adopt the same platform as in 2016. President Trump has released a list of core priorities for his second-term agenda, two of which – “Jobs” and “End Our Reliance on China” – contain goals directly applicable to issues of trade. Echoing the growing protectionist rhetoric, Trump’s priorities appear to double down and expand on the 2016 platform.

Under the core priority of “Jobs,” Trump vowed to “Enact Fair Trade Deals that Protect American Jobs” and implement “’Made in America’ Tax Credits”, sentiments that match up with Trump’s various executive orders focused on Buy American policiesThe 2016 Republican platform recognized the importance of free trade deals: “We envision a worldwide multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open markets, what has been called a ‘Reagan Economic Zone,’ in which free trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.” The 2020 priorities seem to expand on this policy, stating that free trade is good, but with much more focus on the American worker and American power in the equation.

Another of Trump’s core priorities is to “End Our Reliance on China,” including goals such as “Bring Back 1 Million Manufacturing Jobs from China,” “Tax Credits for Companies that Bring Back Jobs from China,” and “No Federal Contracts for Companies who Outsource to China”. China was mentioned in the 2016 platform too, with the party vowing to take a firm stance that involved retaliation when necessary in order to punish Chinese “currency manipulation, exclusion of U.S. products from government purchases, and subsidization of Chinese companies to thwart American imports.” Perhaps unsurprisingly given global politics, this again appears to be an area of increased focus for the Trump administration looking ahead to a second term.

Protectionist Rhetoric on the Rise

Past studies have found evidence to support the assertion that when faced with an election, politicians are more likely to take a protectionist stance. That trend has continued, or perhaps escalated, over the last 15 years – and if the rhetoric we’re seeing on the 2020 campaign trail is any indication, it seems unlikely to slow down anytime soon.

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Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

fossils

T. REX TRADERS: THE LOST WORLD OF FOSSIL EXPORTS

Is Stan the New Sue?

On October 6, a much-anticipated collector’s item is scheduled to be auctioned off by Christie’s of New York. The star of this sale will be Stan, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeletons ever found.

“T. rex is a brand name in a way that no other dinosaur is,” says James Hyslop, head of Christie’s Science & Natural History department. “It sits very naturally against a Picasso, a Jeff Koons or an Andy Warhol.”

It reportedly took three years (and 30,000 hours of work) to excavate Stan from South Dakota’s Hell Creek Formation. Now, this unique specimen could fetch a record price at auction. The most expensive T. rex sale on record is Sue, the world’s largest and best preserved T. rex skeleton, sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $8.36 million to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in 1997.

Paleontologist Kirk Johnson, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, says: “The day Sue got auctioned is the day fossils became money.” There are no public records available to verify how many dinosaurs hit the auction block. But one expert estimates it’s about three to five per year. Christie’s says that it is not uncommon to have bidders from more than 50 countries participate in auctions of dinosaur fossils.

Stan

Fossils as Commodities

The increased number of private dinosaur collectors is raising concerns within the scientific community, who worry that rare fossils in private collections won’t be available for future scientific study. The debate boils down to this: are dinosaur bones a commodity? Or a common good?

In the early 20th century, universities and museums often commissioned fossil digs. But now these institutions rely on free access to fossil sites to do their work, and landowners are opting instead to work with commercial dealers that typically pay them a portion of their profits.

Dinosaurs excavated by commercial dealers usually head to the private market. And it is increasingly rare that a museum or educational institution can afford such an expensive purchase. (The Field Museum received sponsorship from Disney and McDonald’s to finance Sue back in 1997.) Dealers argue that collectors often donate important fossils to museums. But other ethical concerns remain, as private buyers may unknowingly contribute to the black market fossil trade.

Dinosaur Gold Rush

The Tyrannosaurus rex has been capturing the imaginations of people ever since the first one was unearthed in the western U.S. in the early 1900s. But our collective fascination with dinosaurs dates back at least 2,000 years, when Chinese writings described what were thought to be dragon bones. In the 17th century, an English scientist theorized that a dinosaur thigh bone was from a human giant.

Today’s dinosaur collection trend is in part fueled by the generation that grew up watching the The Land Before Time (1988) and Jurassic Park (1993) movies. The fossil market boomed in the late 1980s when dealers from Japan started buying up prized fossils for their collections, driving up prices beyond the reach of most educational institutions.

Are dino bones a tradable good

Now dinosaur collecting is a global phenomenon, and not limited to the world’s elite auction houses, either. On eBay, about 100 Mososaur – a marine dinosaur – fossils are being sold online each month in the UK. Overall, eBay reported a 22 percent increase in fossil sales during 2018. And with an average of 50 new dinosaur species being discovered each year, there is always room for the collection to grow.

The Dinosaur Economy

The most dinosaur fossils – and the widest variety – have been found in the deserts and badlands of the western United States, China, Mongolia, and Argentina. To find a particular fossil, you must first find the right age rocks. For example, a sedimentary rock layer called the Morrison formation extending from the southwest U.S. up to Canada is a treasure trove for fossils from the Jurassic Period, when giants like the Stegosaurus and Allosaurus roamed North America.

Here in the U.S, the largest quantity of fossils have been unearthed in California, Wyoming and Montana. Seven states – Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin – have no dinosaur fossils, because they were mostly below sea level during the dinosaur era and don’t have the right kind of sediment to preserve fossils.

The states that do have a ready supply of fossils are fostering a dinosaur economy that gives enthusiasts another way to get a piece of dinosaur history aside from owning a fossil of their own. In Montana, 14 paleontology museums have banded together to form the Montana Dinosaur Trail Association to encourage tourists to collect stamps on their “Prehistoric Passports” at important fossil sites across the state. There’s even an entire National Park Service site dedicated to fossils. Dinosaur National Monument, located on the Utah/Colorado border, welcomed 304,468 visitors in 2018, providing $20.3 million in economic activity and supporting 222 jobs.

Who Owns the Past?

Fossils are protected on federally owned lands such as National Parks by the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009. Even with laws now on the books to protect fossils on public lands, theft remains a concern. Back in the 1930s, one National Monument that started out as a trove of paleontological treasures actually lost its protected status after visitors stole all of its fossils. As recently as 2017, fossils were reported stolen from Death Valley National Park.

Meanwhile, fossils discovered on privately owned lands are private property. Anybody can dig for fossils there with the permission of the landowner. But even then, custody battles over dinosaur remains are not uncommon. Earlier this year, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in a landmark case that dinosaur fossils are not classified as minerals after an ongoing legal battle over the ownership of dinosaur bones found on a ranch where the surface and mineral rights are owned by different people.

International Fossil Trade Laws

International rules and regulations impacting fossil collection, sales and export are murky at best – and are often ignored. For example, ever since 1924, Mongolia has declared all fossils discovered within the country’s borders to be property of the state. Private collections are banned and no fossils are allowed to be shipped out of the country without special permission.

Most major museums in Europe and the United States have strict rules about acquiring looted fossils. Institutions like the American Museum of Natural History have sponsored expeditions to Mongolia with government approval to temporarily remove fossils for study. But most of the dinosaur specimens from Mongolia (and China, which also enacted a law requiring government permission to export fossils) that routinely show up for sale in the U.S. and around the world, have been transported here illegally.

Some of them are eventually reclaimed by their home country’s government. Actor Nicolas Cage had to return a $70 million skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar – an Asian relative of the T. rex – he bought at auction in 2012. (Cage had beat out Leonardo DiCaprio with the winning bid of $276,000 at an auction in California to take home the skull.) The China Daily newspaper reported that over a period of three years, China reclaimed more than 5,000 fossil specimens from foreign countries, including Australia, the United States, Canada and Italy. Legal action has also been taken against auction houses to block the sale of stolen Mongolian fossils.

fossil black market rev

The Problem of Fake Fossils

And then, there is the problem of fake fossils. Perhaps the most famous hoax in the paleontology community was the so-called “Piltdown Chicken,” a reference to the faked early hominid remains reportedly found in Piltdown, England in 1912. National Geographic Magazine announced the discovery of the Archaeoraptor liaoningensis in China in 1999, celebrated as the missing link between dinosaurs and birds. But it was later discovered that the fossil had been forged, one of the most embarrassing blunders in the magazine’s history.

Today, the problem of fake fossils from China has only grown, exacerbated by the fact that most of the region’s fossils are dug up by poor farmers who are desperate to sell the bones for a profit, despite the practice being illegal. Finding a high-quality fossil can sell for tens of thousands of dollars – the equivalent of hitting the jackpot. Fossils can be faked by mix and matching individual bones from different specimens of the same species (creating a “composite”) or combining different parts of different species to create something that looks like a new animal – as was the case of the Piltdown Chicken. Forgery can also take the form of carving missing pieces of fossils from stone.

In some cases, fossils are completely manufactured from scratch on an industrial scale – one researcher described seeing what he thought was an Archaeopteryx specimen that had actually been made out of ground-up bones glued back together. Morocco is the source of mass-produced fake trilobites that often show up in U.S. gem and fossil shows. Purchasing a fake fossil is an easy mistake for collectors to make. Private collections are rarely opened up to the scientific community for verification of authenticity.

Not All Fossils Are Created Equal

As James Kirkland of the Utah Geological Survey says, “Not all fossils are created equal. Some are worth scientific study, but many are not.”

While many kinds of fossils are abundant, others are unique. Stan – the T. rex up for sale on October 6 – is one of those rare breeds. Around 50 T. rex skeletons have been found since 1902, with near-complete skeletons like Stan few and far between.

The debate over preserving dinosaur fossils for the common good will undoubtedly continue. One option might be to form new partnerships between commercial dealers and academics, where the museum keeps the originals for study and private collectors can purchase a high-quality cast of the fossil for display.

While it is likely Stan could end up in the hands of a private bidder, the skeleton will be on display at Christie’s at the Rockefeller Center until October 21. And dozens of Stan replicas have already been sold to museums around the world – so you might still have a chance to meet this “King of the Tyrant Lizards” face to face.

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Sarah Hubbart

Sarah Hubbart provides communications strategy, content creation, and social media management for TradeVistas. A native of rural Northern California, Sarah has melded communications and policy throughout her career in Washington, D.C., serving in government affairs, issues management, and coalition building roles in the agricultural sector. She is an alum of California State University, Chico and George Washington University.

fashion

SEPTEMBER ISSUE: FASHION & TRADE IN A SHIFTING GLOBAL LANDSCAPE

As any devoted reader of Vogue knows, September is usually the time for a wardrobe refresh. This year, the new season may not be looking so good for the fashion industry which faces tariffs, changing consumer demand, and of course, fallout from the pandemic.

Going into 2020, fashion’s global leaders were already apprehensive about a difficult year ahead. They feared external economic shocks and were feeling pressure to adapt quickly to digitization and embrace the push for sustainability. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic upended their industry, cutting demand and disrupting supply chains. Meanwhile, escalating global tensions including the U.S.-China trade war added to the burden of trade barriers.

Though fashion can be seen as a luxury or even a hobby, the apparel industry is one of the largest in the world. Disruptions to this trillion dollar industry have meaningful impacts across the globe for the millions involved in making the world look good while clothing it.

The Big Players in the Global Fashion Trade

Fashion is a global business with global supply chains so tariffs, trade disputes, and transportation disruptions all play an important role in determining what we can buy and how much we pay for it. The global apparel market is valued at over one trillion U.S. dollars. The United States is currently the world’s biggest market for imports of apparel and footwear, importing around $85 billion worth of clothing, accessories and footwear in 2018.

“Knit apparel” is defined as any clothing made from the weaving of fibres. It’s the largest single apparel designation. The United States buys 18.95 percent of total knit apparel imports, twice that of the second-largest importer, Germany. Other top destinations for knit apparel around the globe include European countries such as Spain, the UK and France, and fashion-conscious Asian powerhouses like Japan and Hong Kong.

China remains at the top when it comes to exports of apparel. In 2018, China’s exports of knit apparel made up just shy of 31 percent of total world exports. Bangladesh and Vietnam take the number two and three spots, but with market shares of 7.52 and 5.66 percent respectively.

Top Ten Knit Apparel

A look at longer term trends reveals that China’s market share has been slipping. In 2012, China commanded 41 percent of total knit apparel exports, meaning in the past six years it has lost ten percent of its market share. The below graph shows this decline, as well as the increasing share claimed by rising South and Southeast Asian competitors Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This can be explained partially by the escalating trade war between the United States and China, prompting businesses to shift all or part of their production away from China and to neighboring Asian countries to avoid the Made in China label and the tariffs that come with it.

Asian country share of knit apparel exports v China (1)

An Industry at the Whims of International Policy – and Trends

Even before the pandemic hit, the industry was expecting a shake-up as both global relations and trends were shifting. Global value chains are morphing and new industrializing markets emerging. At the same time, e-commerce continues to accelerate; and expectations for brands to be sustainable and socially conscious are growing. The global pandemic, social movements and international relations of 2020 have forced the fashion industry to be more innovative than ever before to stay in business.

Trade Disputes & Barriers

The fashion industry has long suffered from tariffs — global average import tariff rates for clothing products stood at 17 percent in 2018, about twice as much as that for all other manufactured goods.

In the United States, tariffs are as high as 32 percent for clothing and 65 percent for footwear. In fact, around 75 percent of the total tariff burden on American households comes from apparel products. U.S. tariffs generally vary widely, but those on clothing tend to be higher than in almost any other category and affect a larger portion of U.S. imports, translating into higher prices paid by U.S. consumers.

Given China’s textile and apparel export dominance, it is unsurprising that tariffs on clothing originating in China have been significantly affected by the U.S.-China trade war. The United States levied tariffs ranging from 7 to 25 percent on knitted and non-knitted apparel; textiles including silk and cotton; fabrics such as lace and embroidery; and a whole host of other inputs the fashion industry relies on (like rubberized textiles). China retaliated with its own list of tariffs against American products, including U.S.-produced apparel. The existence of these tariffs, and the constant threat of more, make China a less appealing location for production. If they can find the right mix of cheap-but-skilled labor, manufacturers are likely to relocate factories. Those Made in China labels may instead read Made in VietnamBangladesh or Turkey.

COVID 19: Decreased Demand & Shaky Supply Chains

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt a major blow to the fashion industry worldwide. The one-two punch of disrupted supply chains and a global population reining in luxury expenses hit designers, manufacturers and retailers of clothing and footwear particularly hard.

While people self-quarantined at home, retailers who rely on sales at their brick-and-mortar stores were impacted immediately. During the first six months of 2020, the sales of clothing and accessories at stores in the United States were close to 40 percent lower than one year prior. Department store Nordstrom has suffered a 53 percent dip in sales, and many retailers, including household names like Brooks Brothers, JC Penney and Neiman Marcus, have filed for bankruptcy. Tangentially, a whole population staying home did not demand the same types of clothes as before. No vacation meant no new summer wardrobe. No special events cut down on the need for fancy outfits, causing demand to fall even further.

Resilient and nimble supply chains are vital to any fashion house, as they must be able to react quickly to changing trends and draw on skills and resources spread throughout the world. This resilience was put to the test during the coronavirus pandemic as major production and transportation faltered. The clothing retailers that seem to be weathering the storm best are online-focused stores in a position to pivot quickly to the stay-at-home demand for comfy clothes and “athleisure” wear.

For Some Countries, Fashion Means Everything

Fashion houses and retailers are obviously struggling. Unraveling the threads of trade in fashion reveals the much larger number of people involved in the global fashion industry who have been impacted worldwide. They include millions of people employed as manufacturers of apparel and footwear, as well as producers of textiles and other materials, and farmers who produce raw materials, as well as myriad designers, creators and marketers who are part of the innovative “orange economy”.

Many countries are involved in apparel production, but for some South and Southeast Asian countries it forms a significant part, even the vast majority, of their total revenue. For example, 44 percent of national export revenue in Sri Lanka comes from apparel. That number is even higher for Cambodia, at 58.45 percent. Apparel is also Vietnam’s third-largest export sector, bringing in over $36 billion annually and accounting for 16 percent of GDP.

And nowhere is the apparel industry more important than Bangladesh, where 83 percent of total export revenue comes from the garment industry. The apparel industry, and more specifically the ability to trade the clothing and accessories manufactured in Bangladesh, has been a huge driver of economic development in the country and has given many the opportunity to earn a living beyond subsistence farming. About 80 percent of jobs are held by women, providing not only employment but autonomy and education to one of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.

However, this specialization comes at a cost. Although trade in apparel has brought much needed revenue into the country, the heavy reliance on a single industry has also been a source of concern. For example, worldwide orders dried up at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, risking millions of Bangladeshi jobs and even prompting fears of starvation.

Bangladesh Garment Sector (1)

Trends in Fashion and Trends in Trade – Where Next?

Trends rule in the world of fashion. In this especially uncertain time, who knows what will win out as new autumn fashion appears on our shelves (and in our feeds)?

Will the growing shift to more sustainable and ethical fashion continue with a slow down of “fast fashion” in favor of investing in long-lasting pieces with a low environmental footprint? If so, we might expect a shift away from clothing produced in far-flung destinations to cut down on carbon footprints or to trace the origin of clothing made with free and fair practices. Or, as the world opens up post-COVID will the return of traveling and social events spur a worldwide shopping-spree and a desire for more clothing, more quickly? In that case, suppliers who can utilize large and diverse – yet agile – supply chains will come out on top.

Two things are certain: fashion will continue to be a global industry and trade will continue to play a vital role in shaping what we wear.

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Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

ocean

An Ocean of Potential in the Blue Economy

The Blue Economy

The ocean has always been an essential part of life on this blue planet. Oceans cover over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and contain 97 percent of the world’s water. We rely on its resources to sustain and improve our lives.

The World Bank created a definition for this “blue economy” that encompasses “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.”

Economic activities associated with the ocean include traditional sectors such as commercial fishing, coastal tourism and maritime transport to support global commerce. Increasingly, the ocean has been tapped for energy sources and generation of off-shore renewable energies like wind and tidal energy. Marine life is explored for applications to pharmaceuticals, desalination offers an opportunity to meet demand for freshwater, and the ocean can be used for carbon sequestration to mitigate climate impacts.

World Bank Definition of Blue Economy

Vital to Livelihoods and Growth

In one form or another, trade in ocean resources contributes between $3-6 trillion to global GDP, supporting the livelihoods of over 3 billion people on the planet.

Recognizing the importance of measuring the economic impact of the ocean, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) in 2019 to develop prototype statistics to measure the ocean’s contribution to the U.S. economy. From aquaculture to shipbuilding, offshore mining and power generation, marine-related activities contributed some $373 billion to U.S. GDP in 2018.

Tourism and recreation generated the most, bringing in just shy of $143 billion in wages, profits, and tax revenue for coastal communities in the U.S. in 2018. The new data also showed that between 2014 and 2018, the American blue economy grew faster than the overall U.S. economy.

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis

U.S. Ocean Economy

value added by activity in 2018 (millions of dollars)

Tourism and recreation – 38%

National defense and public administration – 33%

Living marine resources – 3%

Marine transportation – 1%

Offshore minerals and utilities – 15%

Deeper Dive into the Ocean Economy

Fisheries and Aquaculture

The ocean delivers a vital and primary source of protein in the diets of over 3 billion people. Marine fisheries employ over 200 million people either directly or indirectly. Expanded global availability of refrigerated storage and transportation has extended access to all kinds of fresh fish.

Overfishing, exacerbated by heavy government subsidies, has become a key concern, putting nearly 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are at risk. Both the UN and the WTO have made removing these subsidies a priority to help protect vulnerable coastal communities who rely on fish for their own consumption and the local economy.

One-half of all fish we eat is farmed rather than captured. Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector in the world. China produces a huge amount of the world’s farmed fish and is the top producer by value of carp, tilapia, catfish, shrimp, oysters and many other types. Norway leads in salmon, trout and smelt with Chile a close second.

Tourism

Tourism has long been vital to many coastal economies. Overall, tourism employs 1 out of every 11 people around the world. It is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest industries, making up 10 percent of global GDP. International tourism is an invisible export. Visitors spend money on transportation, housing and entertainment using income earned in their home country.

From scuba diving and surfing to cruises and all-inclusive beach resorts, coastal tourism comes in many flavors. It is particularly important for less-developed nations, as it creates jobs, promotes economic growth, and brings in money that is spent in local businesses like restaurants, shops, and tour services.

Tourism is the economic lifeblood of many Least Developed Countries and small island developing states such as those in the Caribbean and southeast Asia that collectively host 41 million visitors visit every year. These states are focused on delivering services to bring in more tourists while preserving the natural beauty and resources that attract visitors to their islands.

Shipping

Over 80 percent of goods traded internationally such as raw materials, food, consumer goods, and energy products were transported by sea in 2015. Despite reaching a record high of 11 billion tonnes shipped that year, world maritime trade growth decelerated to 2.7 percent in 2018, below the historical average of 3.0, reflecting a range of risks that intensified at the time including global trade tensions, protectionism, and the ‘Brexit’ decision.

Issues surrounding maritime transport are often intertwined with other global economic, environmental and political trends. Security conflicts occur over country ownership of key shipping routes and global discussions are active over the environmental impacts of fuel-guzzling container ships.

The world’s ports can often act as a weather vane for the economy as a whole. Dockworkers feel the effects of tariffs, disasters, and other trade policy changes before farmers, truckers, distributors and retailers do. Effects of the recent U.S.-China trade war and of the COVID-19 pandemic were experienced by dockers who saw the vast reductions in imports before the economic effects rippled throughout the economy.

As supply chains continue to shift and we watch for reshoring, the maritime transport sector may start to look different over the next few years, but will undoubtedly remain an essential part of the global economy.

Stats how we rely on the ocean

Preserving Our Oceans

Sustainability is a key aspect of the blue economy. Although there is an emphasis on environmental stewardship and protection in all parts of the, nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to our oceans, a finite and critical resource.

Overfishing or pollution could deplete fish stocks and cause a severe food crisis. Environmental degradation caused by the tourism industry could ruin the economies of coastal communities. Waste and pollution from shipping could cause accumulated damage to our air and water.

According to Conservation International eight million metric tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean every year. At this rate, by 2050, plastic would outweigh fish in the ocean. Other concerns cited include the runoff of harmful nutrients from agriculture into the ocean, warming temperatures that are bleaching and destroying coral reefs, and even noise pollution from shipping that is killing creatures such as jellyfish.

International governmental cooperation and advances in technology can combat these problems. Conservation and sustainable use form one of the five pillars used by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as part of their Ocean’s Economy and Trade Strategy project. This effort aims to mitigate damage while maintaining the important economic benefits of the blue economy that supports billions of people.

It seems no aspect of economic life has been spared disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, including many parts of the blue economy and related livelihoods. UNCTAD released a report to chart the waters of re-opening the blue economy to become more resilient post-pandemic. It proposes enhanced coordination and communication between fisheries and distributors to cut down on food waste, exercising restraint in sanitary protectionism, and closely monitoring shipping to prevent bottlenecks and delays. UNCTAD also suggests removing fishing subsidies to tackle wasteful overfishing; developing a “2.0 approach” to coastal tourism that showcases local sustainability efforts; and digitizing maritime trade procedures to achieve efficiencies and reduce CO2 emissions.

Untapped Potential

There is still a lot we don’t know about the world’s oceans, so embracing science and discovery will play an important role as we continue to draw on its precious resources and develop new markets. Untapped economic potential includes the capture of carbon, supporting the existence of a rich oceanic biodiversity, waste disposal, and the protection of coasts.

The blue economy is as diverse as its land-based counterpart – perhaps even more so. Sustainability will continue to be extremely important both for its own sake and for the preservation of the resources we rely on every day. With careful stewardship, the blue economy can continue to support billions of people and enrich all of our lives.

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Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

education

IS THERE A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR TRADE IN EDUCATION?

American University Blues

The arrival of COVID-19 sent students packing mid-semester as many universities continue to mull over options for restarting in-person classes in the fall. Many international students who had returned home for the spring break were unable to return to the United States to finish out their studies.

Travel restrictions and changing student visa rules will have international applicants questioning whether to pursue studies abroad. Universities are working to increase their capabilities to deliver courses virtually but online classes may be less attractive when part of the allure and prestige of American universities is associated with the campus experience. Prospective foreign students may also decline to enroll if they cannot network to secure post-degree employment in the United States.

This is happening against a backdrop of declining new enrollment in American universities by foreign students after a decade-long boom. New international student enrollment has decreased year on year since the 2016/2017 academic year, though the overall number of international students in the United States has increased as more students take advantage of Optional Practical Training, which allows them to stay under their student visa to work for one year.

Education as an Export for International Students

During the 2017/2018 academic year, American educational institutions hosted over one million students. When foreign students come to the United States to study, those institutions are exporting their educational services. Perhaps surprisingly, educational service exports ranked 5th among all U.S. services exports, valued at $45.3 billion in 2018, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Services trade can be described as supplied in one or more of four ways: the service itself travels over a border but the provider and consumer remain in their home countries; the consumer travels across a border to receive a service; the provider establishes a commercial presence in another country to provide the service; and/or, the service provider travels to another country to provide the service.

Educational services – to varying degrees – are being provided today in all four of these ways. Of course, the most traditional approach is for students to enroll and travel to attend classes in educational institutions abroad for a semester, a year or for a full degree. To a lesser extent, professors may travel to campuses overseas to teach in residence.

As communications technologies improve and become more widely used, virtual education is increasing in popularity. Think: distance learning, corporate training online and expansion of educational software and platforms. Lastly, it has become much more popular in recent years for large universities to open satellite campuses overseas.

Limited Trade Commitments

In the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), members have taken commitments to create more market access, enabling the expansion of global educational exports. However, education services still rank among the least committed of all sectors subject to GATS coverage (after audio-visual and energy services).

WTO members are not required to make any commitments to liberalize their markets for educational services and GATS provides exemptions for members to avoid commitments where services are supplied “in the exercise of governmental authority,” or in other words, providing a public service. Furthermore, where educational services are covered in a country’s commitments, they may maintain some limitations on foreign investment, or set limits on the number of service suppliers, on the total value of service transactions or assets, or other types of limitations such as ensuring that quality standards are maintained.

U.S. is Still Top Destination

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 8 million students will be studying abroad by 2025.

The United States has long held the number one spot for students seeking an international education. According to the Institute of International Education’s 2019 Open Doors Report, the United States played host to over 30,000 students per year during the 1950s. By the late 1990s, that number reached 500,000 and reached an all-time high of 1,095,299 students in the 2018/2019 academic year, including undergraduates, graduate-level students, and students undertaking a one- or two-year post-graduation experience under their student visa.

The U.S. education system attracts students from virtually every country of the world. China sends the most students to the United States by far. India is a not-so-close second.
As a percentage of total students in higher education, however, the United States has relatively fewer international students than many other countries, at only 5.5 percent. By comparison, Australia’s average foreign student body is 28.0 percent, Canada’s 21.4 percent, the U.K.’s 20.9 percent, France’s 12.8 percent, and Russia’s 8.6 percent.

The Foreign Student Premium

It pays for universities and governments to attract international students. Aside from the cultural value, diversity of perspectives and ideas they bring, international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities contributed $41 billion in revenue and supported 458,290 jobs during the 2018/19 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

International students in the United States, as well as in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, pay on average double the tuition fees paid by domestic students. In the United States, this is largely due to the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition at public universities, but in other countries, international students are charged separate – often much higher – tuition rates.

In addition to padding university budgets, international students bring additional spending to local shops and restaurants, and tend to travel in their host country, helping to support jobs in the community and through tourism. For example, NAFSA found that international students in the top two enrolling states, California and New York, contributed $6.8 billion and $5.3 billion to each state’s economy, and supported 74,814 and 59,586 jobs, respectively.

Graduating to the Next Level?

Educational service exports are facing some serious headwinds. If schools want to keep hold of the huge benefits international students bring, they must incentivize new student enrollment and ensure safe returns to campus. One country doing just that is Australia, which is trialing a pilot scheme to gradually reintroduce international students, whose presence in the country supports 259,000 jobs.

In addition to delivering their educational services on campus, the global health pandemic is forcing universities to adapt and innovate to deliver education online. The mainstreaming of distance learning may also create opportunities for more providers to offer educational services across international borders. We’re all learning in this new environment.

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Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
global supply

THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAINS BUT WERE THEY ALREADY MORPHING?

COVID-19 is disrupting the operation of global supply chains, causing many businesses (and countries) to rethink where they source their products. Is the pandemic accelerating trends already underway? Were trade policies – both liberalizing and protectionist – inducing some degree of “nearshoring” to avoid tariffs or to focus on regional trade made easier and less costly through free trade agreements?

In the case of the United States at least, the answer may be yes.

How Global Supply Chains Stretched

Supply chains encompass all the people, technology and resources that go into producing a final product or service. Supply “chain” is an oversimplified term as they are not linear; they are more like interconnected networks.

Historically, supply chains were extremely short – you, or maybe your village, were the entire chain. As economies grew more complex, so did supply chains, enabling more firms to specialize. Companies are now able to source from a wide variety of suppliers to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Advances in communication technologies and transportation made it both inexpensive for products to cross national borders multiple times and easier to coordinate complex activities at a distance. Resources, labor and technological expertise in multiple countries are leveraged as value is added throughout global supply chains. International production strengthened many companies’ competitiveness. Many multinational companies also invested in production overseas as part of their supply chain strategies.

Stretched and Strained

As supply chains stretched, imports became increasingly important in the U.S. American manufacturers rely heavily on imports for the inputs into their American-made goods whether those goods are consumed domestically or ultimately exported.

For many years China has been the go-to for much of this intermediary production, with companies attracted to its large supply of low-wage workers and China’s specialization in certain manufacturing. The concentration of manufacturing in China has led to mounting concern over whether China is competing unfairly through subsidization, market access restrictions, technology transfer and localization requirements. These and other policies have attracted more manufacturing to China and away from both advanced economies like the United States and other low-cost producers in Asia, a trend that may be now reversing.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought this concern into sharp relief, sparking policy discussions over whether U.S. innovators and producers have become over-reliant on China for resources, inputs and final production. But even before the pandemic, the subtext of the U.S.-China trade war was U.S. pressure on companies to reexamine and “rebalance” the structure of their supply and production networks as incentivized by mounting tariffs.

And even before the tariff war heated up, businesses were seeking ways to shorten their global supply chains to reduce their vulnerability to external disruptions such as changes to trade rules, natural disasters, or other crises, according to a 2017 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Standard Chartered.

Has Global Value Chain Participation Peaked?

So now that COVID-19 has caused severe disruption to supply chains, the question on everyone’s minds is: will it cause a retreat in participation in global value chains? Or, was participation in global value chains already peaking before the pandemic and if so, will the pandemic hasten the decline?

We can calculate trends in global value chain (GVC) participation using the UNCTAD-Eora Global Value Chain (GVC) Database. Though supply chains and value chains are not exactly analogous, both show the spread of supply networks across countries. A country’s global value chain participation index can be calculated by summing the foreign value added (FVA) and the indirect value added (DVX) content of its exports, and dividing this by its gross exports.

The chart below shows participation in GVCs generally flattened out from around 2010-2012 after dipping in 2008. It does not show a retreat from global supply chain involvement (though India shows a slight decline). COVID-19 renders the future trajectory unpredictable.

Another measure of trends in global value chains is global foreign direct investment (FDI). In this respect, the trends are far clearer. The data show a significant and sharp decrease in FDI since 2008. This may be a reflection of the decreasing rate of return on FDI, as the initial returns to scale for large multinational corporations start to diminish and new local competitors come online.

The expansion of the digital economy is also likely a big factor in shifts away from FDI commitments, as improvements and diffusion of technology allows businesses to provide services without foreign direct investment in a location. A reduction in FDI may therefore show a complete removal of international involvement, or may just represent a shift in the distance and nature of involvement and investments in foreign markets.

Diversification and Regionalization, Not De-globalization

The expansion of global value chains does appear to have slowed from the heady pre-recession era, and direct on-the-ground investment has plummeted. But, just as with globalization in general, it is too early to say whether supply chains as a whole are shrinking, shifting or something else. Companies could be mitigating risk by diversifying supplier relationships and regionalizing supply chains in response to a proliferation of regional trade agreements that removed barriers.

Looking at the United States specifically, there is evidence of both shifts.

As seen in the chart below, the share of total U.S. imports from China have sharply declined. As we might expect, 2017 marks the beginning of a downturn in the share of imports coming from China. The particularly sharp drop after 2018 shows the effects of the U.S.-China trade war, reflecting the increased costs imposed by tariffs. The sustained political risk combined with trade policies prompted businesses to reduce reliance on exports from China in favor of sourcing elsewhere in the world.

Over the same time period, low-cost Asian producers such as Thailand and Vietnam saw an uptick in share of U.S. imports. U.S. companies may be diversifying production relationships away from China and toward other countries in the region, or at least taking advantage of excess production capacity in facilities elsewhere. The increases are significant but not massive in real monetary terms for a single country, suggesting a “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” mentality.

Even the United States’ largest tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Google have been reportedly exploring similar moves. In their recent re-shoring report, Kearney found evidence that low-cost producers in Asia have been the beneficiaries over the last five years of efforts from U.S. companies to diversify their supplier networks.

There is also evidence that companies are doubling down on natural geographic trading partners through regionalization of supply networks. Mexico’s share of U.S. imports has increased steadily over the last few years, with a particularly sharp increase in 2019 in tandem with the U.S.-China tariff war.

Regional economic integration is not a new policy strategy. Many of the earliest free trade agreements were regional in nature. Under NAFTA, U.S. firms leveraged the complementary assets of our neighbors to the north and south to strengthen the global competitiveness of regionally-made products. As the Bush Institute Global Competitiveness Scorecard shows, the United States, Canada and Mexico are more competitive as a North American region than any other region in the world. The implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement will provide incentive to reinforce these relationships as U.S. companies think about “rebalancing” their supply networks.

What to Look For

It is still too early to see the real effects of the COVID-19 pandemic or even the US-China trade war in the data on imports and global value chains, predictions notwithstanding.

Global value chains may be expected to remain complex, but could shift to cross borders that are closer geographically as trade increases among regional partners within Europe, North America and Pacific Rim countries. A key indicator for this will be changes in shipping trends. Expert Martin Stopford predicts a decrease in demand for large container ships and an uptick in demand for smaller shipping vessels that are more economical for shorter routes.

Before the pandemic, global supply chain expansion was not increasing at the speed it once was, but reports of its demise are premature. Instead, companies are thinking about diversification for improved resilience without sacrificing the benefits of a global and interconnected system of international trade.

Meanwhile, hopes for American reshoring may be equally overblown. The United States has obstacles to overcome, including a shortage of skilled labor and high production costs. Nonetheless, companies will have to assess whether a cost-above-all-else approach to manufacturing and sourcing is sustainable in a post-pandemic global economy.

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Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.
wildlife

WET MARKETS EXPOSE GLOBAL WILDLIFE TRADE

A Watershed Moment for Preserving Lives – Theirs and Ours

Wildlife trade where exotic animals are sold for parts, food or medicine – even as pets – is multibillion dollar business. One in every five wildlife species is at risk of being ensnared in wildlife trade, driving an estimated 8,775 species to the edge of extinction.

Human consumption of wild animals has long been a public health concern, linked to the origin of outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Ebola Virus Disease. Nonetheless, China is reopening wet markets where COVID-19 may have originated, albeit with purportedly improved regulations on hygienic conditions.

On February 24, China announced a ban on the sale and consumption of wild animals in China. But China’s Ministry of Finance announced on March 17 it would increase the tax rebate on an array of exported products, including edible snakes and turtles, primate meat, beaver and civet musk and rhino horns.

Wet markets featuring exotic species are not uncommon throughout Asia. Wildlife farms (an oxymoron) also raise animals for traditional medicines. And in an unrelated problem — as uncovered in the recent Netflix hit Tiger King — purveyors of tigers, leopards and other big cats continue to fuel the fantasies of Americans who want selfies with a baby cub. Spoiler alert: at the end of the series, it’s revealed there could be 5,000-10,000 tigers living in captivity in the United States compared with 4,000 in the wild.

Has the strange confluence of Joe Exotic and COVID-19’s potential origins from a bat in a wet market finally brought the world to a watershed moment in wildlife trade?

China Rebates Exports of Wild Exotic Animals

No Trade Without Demand

Attempts to prevent or limit wildlife trade often focus on the supply side. But trade is driven by consumer demand. It’s the demand for wild animals and plants that signals there’s money to be made both illegally and legally.

Wildlife harvested for food encompasses a broad range of practices, from illegally importing ultra-rare exotic animal meat such as African gorillas and elephants, to the sustainable and legal Australian kangaroo meat trade. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, wild meat is often the only available source of animal protein in poverty-stricken areas, where it’s unlikely to be internationally traded.

However, there is evidence that urbanization is driving increased demand in commercial trade of wild meat because of the relatively higher prices paid by urban dwellers. Increasing affluence (particularly in Southeast Asia) has increased demand for wildlife products, which have taken on luxury status. For example, in some Asian countries, consuming certain species is believed to help the eater absorb the animal’s strength and resilience. Nonetheless, consuming wild animals carries significant danger of transmitting zoonotic diseases that can occur through any contact with the animal or meat, via the hunters, middle market distributors, sellers in the market or consumers.

Many wild animals are hunted for the purported medicinal properties of their organs, bones and skin. The endangered pangolin is believed to be the most-trafficked animal in the world. Their scales are ground into various medicines to treat anything from malarial fever and deafness to “demon-possession” in women. Despite the illegality of killing them, huge quantities are still seized by customs officials while being smuggled from their native habitats in India and Myanmar. African wildlife, including crocodiles, elephants and rhinos have long been poached for use in traditional medicine, exported mostly illegally, though some hunting for trade is managed and legal.

Endangered and non-endangered wild animals are also traded and transported live to be sold as exotic pets. According to U.S. pet ownership statistics from 2017-2018, over 18 million U.S. households owned some form of exotic or specialty pet, totaling just shy of 90 million individual animals. This number includes hundreds of species of fish, wild birds, reptiles and mammals like macaws, iguanas and monkeys.

Shifting Trade Routes for US CITES imports

Explanation of Visual Tool and Data

Regulating Legal Wildlife Trade

When picturing international trade in wildlife it’s easy to jump to images from the news of monkeys being smuggled in underwear or elephant poaching in Tanzania. However, a huge amount of wildlife trade occurs legally for breeding, biomedical research, exhibitions, conservation and even law enforcement and forensic work.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement ratified in 1975 to which 183 countries are now a party. It was negotiated to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. More than 37,000 species are categorized by the degree of protection they need. Trade in species threatened by extinction is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Trade must be controlled for species where their utilization is incompatible with their survival. A third category includes species that are protected in at least one country that has asked other CITES parties for assistance in controlling the trade. All forms of trade in animals covered by the agreement must be authorized through export quota and licensing systems.

According to CITES data, over a million legal transactions involving live animals or their by-products such as fur, skins and dried herbs occur each year, and this does not include the millions of transactions involving species not on the CITES protected list. The CITES Trade Database may represent the largest data collection currently available on the sustainable use of wildlife. Each “record” in the database provides details of one permitted shipment (import, export or re-export) of live or dead animals and plants and their parts and derivatives. Below is an example of data extracted from the database on the number of “big cats” covered in the panthera genus that were traded live in a given year.

Number of Big Cats Traded Live Per Year

Participation in CITES aids governments in regulating and monitoring legal trade in animals, supports conservation efforts by making species easier to track, and arguably provides communities with an incentive to keep native populations healthy and thriving, for the subsistence of local communities and as a resource to cultivate for their livelihoods. For example, CITES has supported the growth of community-managed vicuña populations in Bolivia and Peru, which are shorn for valuable fiber.

However, despite the best efforts of agreements such as CITES, the legal trade in animals is still a grey area. Ethical concerns exist over whether there is any acceptable way to transport live animals, and introducing non-native species to new habitats can sometimes wreak unexpected ecological and economic havoc, even with good intentions. The United States imported over 800,000 plants and live animals covered by CITES in 2018, including wolves from Sudan, bears from Canada, and flying foxes from Indonesia.

Illegal Wildlife Trade On Par with Illegal Drugs and Weapons

Illegal international trade in wild animals is worth billions, comparable in size and scope to the illegal drug and weapons trades, making it one of the largest black markets in the world.

Civil conflict and wildlife trafficking often go hand in hand. In countries mired in conflict and suffering from weak governance, criminal organizations and militia groups are reaping huge sums of money from wildlife trafficking with terrible knock-on effects for society along with the animal population. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, armed groups sustain conflict from the money made from poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. Youth are being torn from their families, conscripted into poaching, while the community suffers violence and economic setbacks.

A Pivotal Moment in Wildlife Trade

What more can be done to protect wildlife? One solution is to reduce consumer demand. China has increased public health and safety warnings about the consumption of wild animals and has conducted raids and arrests for those found catching or selling wild animals. The U.S. Agency for International Development created targeted campaigns using celebrities to try and reduce ivory demand. An organization called Change Wildlife Consumers is attempting to use behavioral science to influence consumer behavior.

With renewed scrutiny on wildlife trade due to its impacts on human health and the health of native species and habitats, the stage may be set for governments to impose stricter prohibitions on wildlife trade. But if demand persists, wildlife markets and similar activities may be driven underground, making it riskier but more lucrative for unscrupulous traffickers to deal in wildlife trade.

Joe Exotic landed in jail for other crimes. Meanwhile, wet markets and trade in wild animals remains both a threat to animal survival as well as to the health of humans and our economies on a global scale.

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Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

home

THE GREAT DISTANCES TRAVELED SO YOU CAN STAY AT HOME

Baking queries are popping up all over Google, which reported that a top trending search was “how to make banana bread.”

As millions of people across the United States are ordered to stay at home and shelter in place, many have found they have a surplus of free time on their hands that was once filled with commuting, socializing and generally being somewhere other than their house or apartment. So what to do? Of course there is enough content on online streaming and gaming services to keep us enthralled for many lifetimes, but a lot of people are trying to make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt by using the time to learn a new skill, create something, or better themselves.

The activities we are filling our time with while confined to our homes show just how monumentally global our influences, choices and opportunities really are. While restricted to our small slices of the world we have the opportunity to cook food using ingredients and make things with materials that have traveled huge distances. And we can learn the skills and practices that are part of cultures thousands of miles removed from our own, all thanks to trade – both historical and present.

Globally-Inspired Baking

Whipping up delicious baked goods is comforting and rewarding. Little is more satisfying than making your own bread from scratch – it’s the nearest most of us will come to alchemy, and it’s utterly delicious. In fact, so many Americans are turning to this source of comfort that flour and yeast are running low and producers are fighting to keep up with demand.

Bread isn’t the only option available for home chefs. Trade provides a gateway to international culinary influences, allowing us to import the knowledge of grandmothers the world over. A few simple ingredients such as flour, yeast, fat and sugar (but beware the tariffs!) are all you need to make authentic Italian pasta, fluffy Chinese steamed buns or mouthwatering Colombian arepas. A quick Internet search will help you find family recipes to master yourself.

If you fancy something a little sweeter, how about a plate of fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies – what could be more American? With cocoa beans imported from West Africa and vanilla pods from Mexico and Madagascar, you can again credit international trade with bringing you the ingredients to craft culinary magic. And for classic banana bread, your bananas are probably from Ecuador, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Colombia or Guatemala, and their complex trade story goes much further.

Knitting Together Cultures

Time at home has also reignited interest in creative outlets like painting, writing and crafting. Knitting, crochet and embroidery are some of the most popular activities we’ve been picking up to keep our hands busy, serving both as something to do and a great way to help calm anxious minds. Although only to be used when there is no other option, generous crafters in some communities are helping out by sewing homemade masks, reminiscent of the wartime “knit your bit” movement to get socks and warm clothing to front-line troops.

knitting and sewing

If you’re looking to knit up something cozy during isolation, wool from the animals of the world has you covered. The alpacas and vicunas of the Andean Highlands of Peru are a valued source of soft and squishy wool, and in South Africa Angora goats (originally from Turkey) are farmed and shorn for Mohair. And of course, humble sheep the world over offer up their coats. The many different breeds from places such as the Falklands, Spain, Australia, or the UK produce a huge variety of wool for our handmade sweaters, hats and scarfs.

Thanks to trade and innovation, numerous plant-based yarns are also available, beyond the obvious cotton. Great for crafting light and airy creations, they include materials such as raffia made from the fibers of raffia palms native to tropical Africa and Madagascar. You could also pick up yarn made from wonder-plant hemp, whose top producers include China and Canada, or yarn made from Australian eucalyptus, sustainably and ethically sourced.

Staying Healthy Inside

The closures of gyms and fitness studios and the stresses of staying cooped up mean people are trying to find ways to stay fit and healthy while they isolate, including exercising at home and experimenting with healthy foods.

Though you can no longer take a spin class or use the elliptical at your local gym, workouts that can be done at home have seen a surge in popularity, and many group fitness classes are trying to transition to providing virtual content. Many of these fitness classes and practices originally came to the United States from abroad.

Yoga mats have seen a spike in popularity on Amazon as people turn to the ancient Indian discipline to find their inner peace amidst the turmoil. One in three Americans have tried yoga at some point, and that statistic seems likely to increase even further. Perennial favorite Pilates is another way people are trying to stay healthy. It is now practiced worldwide but was originally brought to North America by German immigrant Joseph Pilates.

Young mother doing yoga with 3-years girl in front of window. Downward facing dog asana

Another way to combat the negative effects of social distancing and lack of variety is to seek out healthy foods to consume, like superfood products that claim to boost immunity or calm anxiety.

Thanks to international trade we now have access to all kinds of foods that can help us fuel and feel better. One of these is Japanese Matcha, a green tea powder made from tea primarily grown in two regions in Japan that has been a prominent part of culture there for centuries. Purported benefits include boosting brain function and helping to protect the liver and heart health. Once almost solely enjoyed in Japan, it is now available across the United States, and even at Starbucks and Dunkin’. Another popular superfood is turmeric, U.S. imports of which have surged in recent years from $2.5 million to $35 million between 2001 and 2017. It has been enjoyed in India for over 4,500 years for its ability to fend off illness but now it’s available in any grocery store to add to a home-cooked curry or to use in a turmeric latte.

International Trade Helping Our Domestic Lives

Having to distance yourself from friends and loved ones and stop doing activities you enjoy is undoubtedly tough. However, we can be thankful for – and find pleasure in – what we can still do, thanks to international trade and a globalized world.

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Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

wine

U.S. WINE INDUSTRY IS DROWNING ITS SORROWS OVER TRANSATLANTIC TRADE SPAT

Tipsy trade policy

The United States imported $6.5 billion worth of wine in 2018, equal to 17 percent of total wine imports worldwide. We like our Rioja from Spain, Bordeaux from France, and Italian Vernaccia as much as our California counterparts.

Instead of toasting, American wine importers — and the many businesses that rely on imported wine, from distributors to wine shop owners to restaurateurs — are protesting. Why? Because the administration was seriously considering raising tariffs to 100 percent on a range of imported Euro

pean products, including French, German and Spanish wine.

Imported European wines are already more expensive due to a 25 percent the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) imposed in October 2019. The wine industry is concerned that raising the tariff to 100 percent will cost thousands of jobs as the higher prices on European wines knock out a large chunk of the industry’s wholesale and consumer sales.

A drunken trade brawl

European wine is but a pawn in a decades old trade dispute. In October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that Airbus, a European aerospace corporation and Boeing’s big rival, had illegally received over $22 billion in state-sanctioned subsidies. The WTO authorized the United States to apply retaliatory tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion worth of European exports each year until the subsidies are removed.

Under U.S. law, the USTR must review and possibly revise (maybe increase) or “rotate” the list of products subject to tariffs after 120 days, known as “carousel retaliation,” to ensure the tariffs are causing enough pain to induce a negotiated resolution.

Even if wine were spared a tariff increase in the aircraft case, a new front has opened in this trade brawl. In July last year, France announced its Digital Services Tax, a tax of three percent on revenues generated in France by a digital company, independent of where that company was established. The tax appears targeted at American companies like Google and Facebook and was denounced by President Trump. When it became clear France had no intention of backing down, the U.S. administration threatened tariffs of up to 100 percent on popular European imports — including wine.

Value of US wine imports

Friends don’t let friends retaliate

The U.S. wine industry is getting whiplash from the prospects of cross-retaliation in this trade war. The Europeans are also awaiting a WTO verdict on their case against Boeing subsidies that could authorize tariffs on U.S. imports. One-third of total U.S. wine exports, some $469 million worth, come from California shipping wine to the European Union, making it a prime target for retaliatory tariffs. The European Union could also decide to counter with tariffs in protest of the U.S. response to France’s digital tax.

Wine tariffs will not age well

An attack on wine strikes at the hearts of many. French and Italian wines alone account for one-third of the $70-billion U.S. wine market. The very biggest wine distributors may be able to afford to absorb the cost to remain competitive, but smaller importers and distributors will have a much harder time. The higher costs are passed along to distributors, drivers, specialty retailers, supermarkets and hotels, hitting everyone from the specialist Italian wine store to the French bistro that makes its margin on alcohol sales to the forklift operator in the warehouse. Wine sales also generate local and state tax revenue, particularly in states like Mississippi and Pennsylvania where the Liquor Control Board is the main wine buyer and seller.

In January, House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia M. Velazquez (D-NY) and eight Committee Democrats sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer voicing their fears about the tariffs’ impact on small businesses in the United States. They project that even the original 25 percent tariff could cost as many as 12,000 American jobs. A 100 percent tariff could risk 78,000 American jobs.

The 106 bipartisan members of the Congressional Wine Caucus also got together in January to send their own letter to Lighthizer, urging him to leave wine out of the sanctions, emphasizing the potentially crippling effects on America’s $220 billion wine economy.

Risk to wine chain of 100% tariff

Reason to celebrate?

Last week, the USTR made a sobering decision not to raise tariffs on imported European wines as part of the carousel review.

The entire industry is breathing a small sigh of relief, even producers in California. They would be unlikely to benefit significantly from the loss of competition from European wines. Due to laws on provenance, it is literally impossible to produce Chablis or Champagne anywhere else but France, for example. And compared to numerous competitors across the world, American producers have higher labor costs and limited supplies that could not fill the giant hole in the U.S. market left by European wines. Instead it seems likely that lower-cost South African and South American wine would be the beneficiaries as the more economical switch. Tariffs are a lose-lose for the U.S. industry.

In Vino Veritas

The tariffs are not an end unto themselves. They are meant to raise the stakes and bring the parties to the negotiating table. European trade officials appear to be contemplating measures to mitigate the trade row. Officials in Washington state appear to be reviewing its tax incentives to Boeing. The United States is seeking an international resolution to the question of digital taxes and French economy minister Bruno LeMaire seems more interested to resolve the digital tax dispute with President Trump.

Meanwhile, the U.S. wine industry cannot raise a glass. They must continue to live with the consequences of the 25 percent tariff, which they say could cost as much as $1.6 billion in lost wages throughout the distribution chain.

As for American wine lovers, another terrible reality sets in. After the 25 percent tariff went into effect in November, U.S. wine imports from Europe fell by half over previous months. Over the same period, China’s imports of French wine rose 26 percent. If European winemakers can shift their export focus, they might avoid the U.S. tariff pain and grow their market share in emerging economies while U.S. wine drinkers are left to abstain or drown their sorrow over higher prices.

Let’s all hope the issue is resolved and tariffs removed long before Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November.

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Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.