Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's opinion column on China ("China undermining economic recovery and U.S. security," Commentary, Thursday) falls into the same trade-deficit trap that many others do: Exports are good, imports are bad.
When Mr. Rohrabacher talks about cutting imports from China, whom does he think will be hurt? He must not realize that economically strapped consumers will have fewer choices and pay higher prices if Chinese imports are slashed. More than 47 percent of total U.S. imports from China are electrical machinery and power-generation equipment. U.S. manufacturers needing those inputs could face supply shortages and higher prices, making them less competitive in world markets.
Mr. Rohrabacher's own state of California might suffer if the United States were to adopt protectionist policies and China were to retaliate. In 2010, China was California's third-largest export market, with exports to China totaling $12.4 billion, a significant increase from the year before. Why potentially penalize California and jobs in Mr. Rohrabacher's state with misguided anti-China policies?
No one is saying China doesn't need to change its currency practices and deal with human rights issues. But policymakers should think twice before resorting to protectionist policies that are likely to worsen our economic future.
FRANCES B. SMITH
Adjunct fellow for trade
Competitive Enterprise Institute
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