Brussels and Washington Should Think Twice Before Acting
JAKARTA – As the European Union considers trade measures to limit paper imports from China, the motives behind this effort are now clear – a global campaign against forest industries in Asia – cloaked with Green rhetoric to save the forests – to shore up uncompetitive pulp and paper producers in Europe and the U.S. The campaign to get the EU to limit paper imports from China based on weak claims that China subsidizes pulp and paper industries, has taken the EU to the verge of trade war with China. Beijing has warned EU member states China will retaliate and limit subsidized exports if the European Commission penalizes Chinese imports, warned Alan Oxley, a global trade expert, Chairman of World Growth and former Chairman of the GATT, predecessor to the WTO: “Green Protectionism has brought the EU to the brink of trade war with China. The European paper industry is in trouble because costs are too high and production processes are old. Like uncompetitive counterparts in the U.S. and Australia, they are working with environmental groups and unions in a global campaign, which pretends to save the environment but in reality aims to hike trade barriers against imports from Asia and Africa.
“U.S. organized labor and domestic paper companies are running the same campaign in the U.S., urging the International Trade Commission to find paper products from Indonesia and China were dumped into the U.S. market. The Green lobby is asking Congress to limit imports unless forestry and deforestation are halted.
“WTO rules prevent trade coercion favoured by the Greens, but in the case of the European Commission and European Parliament, they are working in tandem with WWF and Greenpeace for several years now, to get around these WTO trade rules proposing special bilateral arrangements like FLEGT and VPAs. These arrangements benefit domestic EU timber and paper industries.
“NGOs claim it is necessary to halt imports of illegal timber products, yet the evidence shows few illegal timber products entered Europe from Asia or Africa. In fact, recently even activists have had to concede the incidence of illegal logging worldwide was falling. These measures will do little to protect biodiversity; they will just harm the poor.
“No one wins in trade wars, but the consumers in the rich countries and the poor in the developing countries are always hit the hardest.”
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