Saturday, September 01, 2007

Trade Embargo on China

Further discussion is necessary in regards to the government’s effort to protect the citizens of American Samoa from hazardous products made in China. While this protective role is proper for the ASG, it’s hard to believe that legislators, who have a history of being anti-free trade, have only our protection on their minds while pushing the Governor’s trade embargo on Chinese goods.

What may start out as an innocent program designed to identify goods that may be deadly for consumption can easily turn into a system that simply seeks to eliminate competition from foreign competitors. With the power to ban any import, there is no doubt local entrepreneurs will find it very attractive to lobby the ASG for protection of their businesses at consumers’ expense.

When the people see prices go up because the ASG imposes a ban on particular imports, we should continually ask whether such action by our government is warranted and necessary. If we have to suffer higher costs and less choice due to an embargo because our safety may be at risk, then we should demand that the ASG lift its trade restrictions as soon as they have addressed such safety concerns. Otherwise, our people will have to suffer a lower standard of living for no other reason than to afford relief for local businesses and whatever payoffs that politicians and bureaucrats would get in a corrupted process.

While it may be necessary for government to take the initiative to protect consumers from a potential threat, the ideal choice is always for an informed and active citizenry to take the lead. Whether it makes the national news or not, we should always be vigilant in what and how we buy. Consider the reputation of the producer, remember your experiences with a product, find out fellow customer experiences, create forums to discuss consumer matters and share information with others, and write to local media like Samoa News.

We all know that we get what we pay for. Sometimes we get that shoddy product because we couldn’t afford the better one at the time. We do what we have to do to get by one day at a time. The ASG shouldn’t be in the business of making our lives more difficult than it already is unless it’s absolutely necessary.

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