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The Obama Administration has no trade policy, and cannot have one. China is able to have a trade policy, and has one. China does not believe that the United States has no trade policy, and tailors its policy to react to what it interprets as choices and decisions taken by the U.S. Government. The United States, to the extent it tries to have a trade policy, wants to show that it is not intimidated by the retaliatory choices of China. This systemic and profound misunderstanding is taking neither country in a healthy direction.

This article is in two parts, appearing on the blog in consecutive weeks. The first part explains the concept of “trade policy,” and what it means to have one. The second part explains the opening statements: that the United States Administration has no trade policy and cannot have one; that China can have one, and does.

Part One: What It Means To Have A Trade Policy

Politicians, pundits, and scholars talk and write about “trade policy,” but they rarely explain what they mean. “Trade Policy” refers to the accumulation of deliberate government choices to express positions and preferences on international trade. It has essentially three manifestations: in the laws and institutions of a country pertaining to trade; in the actions a country takes, pursuant to its laws, to restrict trade with respect to specific products or services; and in the negotiations a country undertakes to liberalize trade. As in all domains, policy must be understood as to what a country does, not necessarily what it says. It is politically correct everywhere to champion free trade rhetorically. If all the rhetoric could be relied upon, there would be no protectionism.

Free Trade v. Protectionism
Broadly, trade policy is thought to be either in favor of free exchange, or to be protectionist, favoring imports (free trade) or domestic manufacture (protectionism). Favoring imports, in turn, favors consumers because imports increase competition, expand the variety of products offered, and lower prices. Favoring domestic manufacture, however, generally is thought to defend jobs, and jobs, in the end, are at the heart of every trade policy.

Prior to the Clinton Administration, jobs in the United States were little associated with the production of goods for export, even though in virtually every other country jobs expansion was always understood to be dependent on exports. One of the important subliminal messages in President Obama’s vow, in his first State of the Union Address, to double exports over the next five years, was that the United States does not export very much of its gross national product. Imagine the reaction of the rest of the world if China or Japan were to promise a doubling of exports in five years.

The key difference between American and foreign perceptions of exports was that U.S. manufacturers were satisfied with the American continental market; foreign producers needed to sell into that market, not only because the United States was the quintessential consumer society, but because American wealth and the coherent continental market made it by far the most attractive and inviting place to sell. The United States, long the world’s leading champion of free trade, thought it had nothing to fear and everything to gain by encouraging the rest of the world to become more productive and sell to Americans.

Jobs And Trade Policy
Jobs, everywhere, is the key factor in trade policy. Every government maintains domestic peace by promoting and generating jobs, keeping its domestic population occupied and productive. Jobs depend on trade. Without jobs, whether in developed or developing countries, there is no income for consumers to buy imports, and no tax revenue for government services or government-built infrastructure to enable imports to reach consumers.

The more a product is entirely made from domestic materials and components, the more its producers and spokesmen (and the politicians who represent them) will want to protect their domestic market against foreign competitors, in order to protect their jobs, and the more they will want the rules of trade to favor domestic production over free trade. It is nearly impossible, however, for workers in the global economy to make something that can be finished without inputs from abroad, such that their domestic market, and their jobs, depend upon foreign goods. And, they may make something that is in much, or even more, demand, in foreign markets. They need those foreign markets open to buy their goods, and they know that it is exceedingly difficult to avoid reciprocity in market opening – for the foreign market to be open, the domestic market must be open as well. In all these circumstances, the centerpiece of trade thinking is jobs, but jobs may be protected variously by trade protectionism or by free trade. The more goods are made for export, the more the manufacturers of them must favor free trade.

Developed And Developing Countries
Developing countries historically fear free markets, especially in agriculture, because developed countries can overwhelm developing markets. The characterization of developing countries, however, has become more complicated and nuanced as countries develop at different rates and reach different stages of development. These differences lead to different views of trade.

“Developing” and “developed” here are economic terms. They refer to the construction, maintenance, and operation of infrastructure, to the production of increasingly sophisticated goods and services, to the opening of markets. Over the last decade, certain major developing countries, particularly Brazil, China, and India (not “BRIC” because Russia has not been admitted to the WTO) have separated themselves from most other developing countries by the scale and speed with which their economies are developing. China, in particular, proves that capitalism and democracy can develop separately (contrary to the popular theories of Milton Friedman, for example), as China marries capitalism (“with Chinese characteristics”) to an economy still dominated by state owned enterprises. Historically, developing countries had little influence in shaping the rules of international trade, but the combination of Brazil, China, and India has changed the dynamic. When they advance common interests in world trade forums, they can influence the practice and the rules that once had been largely dictated by the developed world, particularly Europe and the United States.

Governments do not long like to be dependent on other countries for food, which makes agriculture, and subsidies to agriculture, the most contentious of trade issues. Developing countries have always feared significant job displacement when confronting free trade, and developed countries have long craved access to the populations of developing countries because they are potential consumers of goods known not to be produced in those countries. Developing countries also tend to fear free trade because the availability of goods to buy that they do not produce can only retard or terminate the possibility that they will ever produce them.

An important common characteristic of Brazil, China, and India is that, while they identify themselves as “developing,” they generally embrace free trade because they see their paths to prosperity through exports. Nonetheless, India has led the developing world’s objections to European and American agricultural subsidies, with the aggressive support of Brazil and China.

The fault line between developed and developing countries as to trade was recognized analytically at least by the late eighteenth century. Alexander Hamilton, in his 1791 Report on Manufactures, advised the new Congress of the United States that it would be necessary to protect certain industries against foreign imports lest the new country fail to develop competitive industries. England, from whom the United States had just won its independence, was the paragon of free trade, and Hamilton feared that political independence would not mean much if the United States were to remain economically dependent on the manufacturing powerhouse across the sea.

The United States became, in the twentieth century, the global leader for free trade in the image of England in the eighteenth century, the world’s foremost manufacturing center. However, unlike England, the United States was not so dependent on exports. Its ever-expanding domestic market and continent-sized reservoir of natural resource inputs were considered by many sufficient to sustain economic growth.

The global economy has changed this calculus, reflected in ever-evolving rules of origin. It is no longer easy to tell where something has been made, which is the first step in determining the tariff treatment it should receive, in turn the result of agreements between or among the countries engaged in trade. A global distribution of goods and services leads to products with components from many different countries, making choices between domestic and foreign products artificial. Consequently, it is no longer clear whether free trade or protectionist preferences are more likely to protect jobs.

Complexity in the rules of origin has been compounded by the flow of ideas. Countries are increasingly inclined to seek barriers to the movement of goods based on the intellectual property they contain. Patents and trademarks are rapidly becoming core considerations for free trade, potentially shifting the paradigm of jobs to wealth embedded in intangible property. Laws focused on intellectual property rights inevitably favor developed countries, but developing countries are learning how to deal with those advantages. Brazil has proposed, for the compensation arising from the WTO finding against the United States over cotton, concessions over intellectual property rights, thereby tying such rights directly to international trade.

Notwithstanding the growing uncertainty as to whether favoring imports is to favor free trade and whether the defense of domestic manufacturing is necessarily protectionist, traditional lines have been drawn around trade law such that there is more than a little truth in the stereotypes. The challenge to recognize these lines is acute in the United States because the United States is second only to the European Union as the world’s largest consumer market, having been surpassed in 2008 shortly after the EU’s expansion to twenty-seven nations. It took a population 37 percent larger in the European Union to surpass, by a very small margin, the consumption of the U.S. market. Producers around the world, for at least a century, have depended on access to the U.S. market to prosper, and still do. They need to sell their goods in the U.S. market in order to earn capital and to preserve jobs at home.

The divide between free trade and protectionism often is defined as a divide between consumers and producers. Consumers are distinct from producers because they define more of what is wanted than what is needed in a society. When people want a product no one makes at home – whether because the country does not have the needed raw materials or the machinery or skills appropriate to the manufacture, or because the product could not fetch a price commensurate with the costs of labor at home – they favor free trade, access to the imported goods. Of course, it is always possible for people to want one thing but make another, therefore favoring free trade in some goods, but not in others.

Partisanship And Socioeconomic Class
Historically, free trade seemed to be the prerogative of middle and upper classes, populated more by service providers, professionals, and management. They appeared to be less dependent on domestic manufacture for their jobs than trade unionists working on assembly lines.

Consequently, free trade appeared to become associated in the United States with the modern Republican Party, characterized by management and economic elites, and the Democratic Party became identified with protectionism because of its support from trade unions. Unions supported the election of Democrats; ”big business” backed Republicans. Democrats were elected from manufacturing centers and factory towns; Republicans became a rural and suburban party of large landholders and corporate managers. Intellectuals and professionals, however, tended to confuse the picture, sympathizing with workers, living in the suburbs, voting to protect manufacturing jobs.

These logical stereotypes, it turns out, have a polling resonance but are historically inaccurate when translated into partisanship, American party affiliations, and trade policy. For over a century, every Congress, whether majority Democratic or Republican, has resisted free trade.

Congressmen derive their power in the United States locally, and the most conspicuous local concern is employment. Most congressmen are inclined to protect the jobs that already exist in their constituency, not to protect jobs that might be if there were freer trade.

Almost every global and domestic initiative to liberalize trade has been taken by a Democratic President of the United States, and most backsliding has been at the hands of Republicans. FDR and Truman saw to the GATT; Eisenhower increased tariffs, and Nixon imposed voluntary restraint agreements on steel; the “Kennedy Round” of global tariff reductions was launched by the Democratic President who gave the negotiations his name; NAFTA was Reagan’s idea, but he also extended VRAs and NAFTA was legislated by Clinton, as was the creation of the WTO and the accession of China to world trade rules. It was a Bush that imposed safeguards on foreign steel.

There are reasons for this history, and for the inaccurate stereotypes, that go beyond the scope of this article, but are describe in my speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in the People’s Republic of China. The point here is merely that the principles that lead to supporters of free trade, on the one hand, and protectionism, on the other, do not translate consistently or reliably into the politics and policies of the two major political parties in the United States. When President Bush urged trade partners to complete the Doha Round before Barack Obama might become President, he was relying on the incorrect impression that Republicans would support free trade and a Democratic President would oppose it.

As popular views of trade are dictated by jobs, so a politician’s view is dictated by votes. When representing a constituency looking either to buy goods from the widest choice possible, or to export goods or services from domestic production, a politician will favor free trade. When the constituency is a domestic manufacturer whose jobs could be lost to foreign competition, a politician will favor protectionism. On balance, Republicans more generally represent constituencies of buyers and Democrats represent constituencies of producers, but the lines are inconsistent and the interests tend to narrow. Policy choices can be very specific. They can involve favoring free trade for agriculture, for example, but protectionism for automobile parts, making a state such as Indiana painfully complicated for both political parties. The same conservative farmer benefiting from massive subsidies can also lobby for open access to the Communist Cuban market.

Trade laws, which are the domestic interpretation of international agreements, reflect these choices and contradictions. They include special provisions crafted by individual legislators to protect the interests of particular constituencies provided it has been possible to compromise in the legislative process with politicians representing other, usually competing, interests.

The Three Components Of Trade Policy
Trade laws define the rules, but they alone do not constitute trade policy. The rules permit domestic agencies to investigate allegations of unfair trade, and to impose restrictions on goods or services found to be unfairly traded. The investigations, and the restrictions imposed, are probably the most important features of trade policy, because they have the most specific impact on trade partners. They determine the continuous tensions among countries over trade.

The third, remaining manifestation of trade policy is in the negotiations pursued to reduce tariff and other trade barriers, and in the choice between bilateral and multilateral negotiations. Although many observers think trade policy amounts to nothing more than these negotiations, they can take many years and have little or no short term impact on trade relations. Although formally the GATT took two years to negotiate (completing in 1947), Secretary of State Cordell Hull began the process of its achievement with reciprocal trade agreements in 1934; the Uruguay Round, launched in September 1986 was not concluded until January 1995, and the Doha Round, now at a standstill, was launched officially in Qatar in November 2001, and only after earlier false starts, as in Seattle in 1999. Meanwhile, the bilateral agreements the United States signed with Korea (2007), Panama (2007), and Colombia (2006) remain without endorsement of the U.S. Congress and without, therefore, any effect on trade. Of these three, moreover, the only one significant in economic terms involves Korea. The others, like an earlier agreement with Australia, are primarily political.

The objectives of trade negotiations are always broadly the same: to reduce tariffs and trade barriers and generally to liberalize trade. However, domestic forces driven by the need and desire to protect jobs seek to protect certain sectors and thereby to limit liberalization.

Industry in one country may crave market access in the trade partner; the trade partner may have a specific domestic need to protect its own production in that very industry. Trade negotiations routinely come apart over such conflicting needs, but they may also unravel over perceptions of nontariff barriers. For instance, the United States imagines itself to have a strict environmental regime that imposes serious costs on its manufacturing industries. Those industries believe competitors in other countries to enjoy unfair advantages by manufacturing with less exacting environmental standards. In a trade negotiation, they want the United States to oblige the trade partner to impose similar standards.

The other main point of contention in American trade negotiations, besides environmental standards, is labor. The United States imagines itself to provide the highest standards of worker protection, including minimum wages, maximum hours, and worker safety. These protections cost industries money, and those industries for whom trade liberalization is being negotiated want foreign industries to expend comparable capital to meet comparable standards. Trade unions, especially, demand that labor standards in other countries be comparable to the standards in the United States, and for at least three reasons: to make the cost of production comparable; to advance a common global cause for the rights of working men and women; and to impose a layer of protection for their domestic manufacturing jobs.

Environmental and labor standards are highly contentious in trade negotiations for many reasons. Many specialists in international trade have long believed that they have nothing to do with trade and ought not to be part of trade negotiations. Others who believe they are properly part of negotiations learn slowly that standards may work differently in different countries, and that American rules are not necessarily the most exacting, but instead may have different purposes and costs. Finding common ground can distract from traditional trade negotiations, and can emphasize disagreements between countries. Nonetheless, they are now core American demands in trade negotiations, accepted by both Republican and Democratic Presidents.

All three components of trade policy – institutions (including laws and regulations); trade remedies (investigations and imposed trade restrictions); and trade negotiations – are effectively beyond the control of the executive branch of the U.S. Government, preventing the United States from formulating and adhering to a coherent trade policy. But all three are well within the control of the central government in China, enabling China to articulate and maintain a trade policy. China wishes the world to believe that it is the leading force for free trade, but there are persuasive reasons why its goods are subject to more trade actions than the goods of all other countries combined. Part Two, next week, will explain why the United States and China are positioned so differently.

         奥巴马政府没有贸易政策,且不可能有。中国有能力制定贸易政策,而且已经拥有。中国不相信美国没有贸易政策,相反一直针对中国视野中的美国政府政策和决定采取对策。美国努力制定贸易政策,同时也试图证明美国并不畏惧中国的报复行动。这一严重的系统性误解导致两国向错误方向发展。

         本文分为两大部分,将在本博客连续刊登。第一部分将解释“贸易政策”的含义及其意义。第二部分将阐述本文开宗明义提出的观点:美国政府没有贸易政策,且不可能有。中国有能力制定贸易政策,而且已经拥有。

一:拥有贸易政策的意义

         政治家、专家学者多次撰文、发表演讲探述“贸易政策”,但是他们很少解释这一术语的含义。“贸易政策”是政府特意选择、表明其国际贸易立场和喜好的积累。它主要包括三层意义:法律及国家机构层面,国家根据法律采取的、限制某一产品或服务的贸易行动,以及国家为开放贸易展开谈判。在这三大层面,一国的行动而非其论调才是理解该国贸易政策的正确指引。无论何时何地,公开倡导自由贸易总是正确的政治行动。但是如果这些论调都值得相信,贸易保护主义就不可能存在。

自由贸易与保护主义的对峙
        泛泛而论,贸易政策可分为倾向进口产品的自由贸易主义或是倾向本国制造业的保护主义。倾向进口产品同时意味着倾向消费者,因为进口带来竞争、增加产品种类、降低价格。然而,本国生产商一般认为贸易保护主义将有助于保护本国就业机会。就业机会正是贸易政策的核心。

          在克林顿总统就职之前,美国就业情况与商品生产、出口没有太大关联,虽然其他国家的就业机会依赖出口。奥巴马总统在第一份国情咨文中承诺未来五年将实现出口翻一番,这一承诺隐含的信息是:美国出口占国民生产总值的比重不大。如果中国或是日本做出相同承诺,可以想象全世界的反应。

         美国与国外对出口产品的理解迥然不同:美国生产商满足于美国大陆市场,而国外生产商则需要向这一市场出口——不仅因为美国是消费性社会,更因为美国的财富和稳定市场表现使之成为全球最具吸引力的市场。美国一直以来是全球倡导自由贸易的先锋,认为自己无需害怕且只会受益于其他国家不断提高生产效率、扩大对美出口。

就业及贸易政策
          无论何处,就业是贸易政策中最重要的因素。各国政府通过增加就业机会使国民忙碌且创造价值,保持国泰民安。就业依赖贸易。无论是在发展中国家还是发达国家,没有就业,消费者就没有收入购买进口品,政府则失去税收收入以支付有助于进口品到达消费者手中的公共建设。

         某一产品使用的本土材料越多、增加值越高,这一产品的生产者和代言人(包括代表这些企业的政治家)就更希望保护本国市场、就业机会,希望贸易政策倾向于保护本国企业。然而在全球化经济环境中,不可能生产不含国外零部件的产品,因此国内市场、国内就业机会也依赖于国外产品。同时,他们需要国外市场敞开大门,购买他们生产的产品;因此他们也知道保持市场对等开放困难重重——若要使国外市场敞开大门,本国市场也必须敞开大门。在这些情况下,贸易政策的核心是就业,但可通过自由贸易、或是贸易保护政策刺激就业。当生产的出口产品越多,更多的生产商倾向于自由贸易。

发达和发展中国家
          历史上,发展中国家害怕自由贸易,尤其在农业领域,因为发达国家可以占领发展中国家市场。发展中国家的特征因其所处的发展阶段不同、发展速度不同使情况变得更加复杂。这些差异导致对贸易的不同观点。

          此处“发展中”和“发达”是经济学用语。它们指建设、保持以及使用基础设施以生产日趋复杂的产品和服务、打开市场。过去一个世纪里,一些主要发展中国家,尤其是巴西、中国和印度(不是“BRIC”四国,因为俄罗斯还不是世界贸易组织成员国)的发展速度和规模远远超越其他发展中国家。尤其是中国,国有企业占主导的中国经济与资本主义(以具有中国特色的方式)相结合,它证明资本主义和民主可以分离(与Milton Friedman 的观点相反)。以往,发展中国家无法影响国际贸易政策的制定,但是巴西、中国和印度的结合改变了这一局面。当他们在国际贸易舞台上为实现共同目标而努力,他们可以影响、改变过去受欧美等发达国家主导的规则和惯例。

         政府不喜欢依赖他国食品出口,因此农业和农业补助是贸易领域最备受争议的话题。发展中国家总是害怕自由贸易将减少就业机会,而发达国家一直希望有机会接触发展中国家的广大民众——发展中国家没有这些产品,其国民是巨大的潜在市场。同时,发展中国家也害怕自由贸易会推迟或阻止本国企业生产这些产品。

          巴西、中国和印度的重要共同特征是,他们标榜为发展中国家,但他们支持自由贸易因为他们看到出口促进经济发展。然而,印度在巴西、中国的支持下、带领发展中国家抵制欧美农业补助

          早在18世纪后期,就有专家对发展中国家和发达国家对贸易的不同态度进行系统分析。亚历山大•汉密尔顿在1791年撰写的《工业家报告》中告诫新一届美国国会采取措施保护某些产业免受进口品威胁,否则刚刚诞生的美国将无法发展具有竞争力的产业。英国积极提倡自由贸易,汉密尔顿担心政治独立的意义将被经济依赖所取代。

          如18世纪的英国,美国在20世纪成长为全球工业中心和倡导自由贸易的先锋。但是,美国不像英国那样依赖出口。她不断扩张的本土市场以及美国大陆丰富的资源使之认为可以确保经济持久增长。

         但是国际贸易改变了这一计算,表现之一是原产地规定的不断变更。分辨某一产品的生产地是确定海关税率的基础,这不再是一项简单的任务;这导致国家间的贸易谈判也更加复杂。物资和服务的全球性分配导致国内和国外产品的划分变得形同虚设。因此,究竟是自由贸易还是贸易保护主义更有利于保护工作也变得模糊不清。

        其他想法的诞生也导致原产地规定变得更加复杂。国家更倾向于利用产品包含的知识产权阻碍货品的自由流通。商标和专利日益成为自由贸易的重要考虑因素,创造就业机会的重点转变成它包含的无形资产。知识产权法有利于发达国家,但发展中国家正在学习如何应对这一优势。例如,巴西在世贸组织、美国棉花案中提议用知识产权补偿其贸易损失,这使得知识产权和国际贸易直接相连。

         偏爱进口品是否就代表支持自由贸易,保护本国产业是否就意味着贸易保护主义?这一分界变得越来越不确定,也使得建立在贸易法上的传统分界线失去意义。2008年美国为扩展至27成员国的欧盟所取代,成为仅次于欧盟的第二大市场,美国面临更严峻的挑战去认识这些分界线。欧盟的人口是美国人口的1.37倍,但是其消费量却仅以微弱优势超过美国。至少一个世纪以来,世界各国的生产商依靠出口商品至美国而发展,至今依然如此。他们依赖出口产品至美国市场以获取资金、保护本国就业。
 
         自由贸易和贸易保护主义的分界线常常在消费者和生产商之间。消费者和生产商不同,因为在界定社会需要的商品时他们更有发言权。当人们对本国没有的产品产生需求时——无论是因为该国没有生产所需的原材料、机器或是技术,或是因为商品价格不能承受本国劳动力价格——他们倾向自由贸易、进口商品。当然,人们很可能需要某一产品却生产另一产品,以此支持某些产品的自由贸易、但却不支持另一领域的自由贸易。

党派和社会经济阶层
         历史上,自由贸易是中上阶级的特权,尤其是服务业者、专业及管理人士。与生产线上工作的贸易工会成员相比,他们的就业对本国生产依赖性较低。因此,美国的共和党似乎更倾向于自由贸易,因为共和党以管理、经济精英为代表;而受工会支持的民主党与保护主义联系更为紧密。工会支持民主党竞选,大企业支持共和党。民主党多在生产中心和工厂城获胜,共和党受城市和城郊大地主、企业管理层的支持。但是知识分子和专业人员同情劳动者、住在城郊、投票保护劳动者的就业,使得情况更加复杂。

          这些符合逻辑的固有观念在民意测验中引发共鸣,但是用于分析美国党派及贸易政策却不准确。一个多世纪以来,无论是民主党还是共和党控制的国会都抵制自由贸易。美国议员的权力基础在基层,而基层最关心的议题是就业。大多数议员倾向于保护选区内已经存在的就业机会,而不是自由贸易可能带来的工作。

        几乎所有推动全球和美国自由贸易的政策都是由民主党总统采取的,而阻碍自由贸易进程的行动则多在共和党总统任期内发生。罗斯福和杜鲁门总统促使《关贸总协定》的签订;艾森豪威尔增加关税;尼克松总统单方面实施协定限制钢铁贸易;肯尼迪总统推动全球谈判减低关税,这一轮谈判也以他的名字命名;《北美洲自由贸易协定》是里根总统的创意,但是他延长了VRAs,而该协定直到克林顿总统任期内才正式立法;同时世贸组织和中国加入世贸组织也在克林顿总统任期内实现。而决定向国外钢铁实施贸易保障措施的正是布什总统。

         本文不能详尽阐述这段历史以及错误的刻板印象,但我在中国美国商会的演讲中有详尽介绍。此处我只想指出自由贸易支持者以及贸易保护主义者的信条并不总是划分美国两党政治的分界线。当布什总统敦促贸易伙伴在奥巴马就职前结束多哈会谈,他的发言建立在共和党人支持自由贸易、民主党人反对自由贸易的错误印象上。

        大众对贸易的印象取决于就业,而政治家的印象取决于投票。如果某一政治家代表的选区希望拥有更多选择以选购商品,或是出口商品或服务,这一政治家将倾向于自由贸易。当他的选区主要由生产厂家组成,面临国外竞争将失去就业机会,则这一政治家支持贸易保护主义。综合而言,共和党人一般来自购买者选区,而民主党人代表生产者选区,但是这一划分并不保持不变,且利益划分很细。因此,政策选择也非常具体。例如,它们可包括支持农业自由贸易,但是保护汽车零部件贸易,使得两党在印第安那州的竞选变得异常艰难。希望获取高额补助的保守的农场主同时可能希望开放共产主义古巴,使美国农产品可出口至古巴。

         贸易法是国内对国际协定的解释,反射选择和矛盾。它们包括立法者制定的特殊条款以保护特定选区的利益,只要在立法过程中能够得到代表其他利益的政治家的支持。

贸易政策的三大组成部分

         贸易法确定贸易规则,但是仅有贸易法和规则还不构成贸易政策。这些规则允许本国机构调查不公平贸易指控,同时限制不正当贸易。调查及限制是贸易政策最重要的特征,因为它们可以对贸易伙伴造成具体冲击。它们决定贸易伙伴间的紧张关系。

         贸易政策的第三大组成部分是就降低关税和其它贸易障碍展开的双边或多边谈判。虽然很多观察家认为贸易政策仅仅包括这些谈判,但是谈判需要多年才能对贸易关系产生影响,短期内只有微弱甚至没有影响。虽然《关贸总协定》的正式谈判仅历时两年于1947年结束,但是国务卿科德尔•赫尔早在1934年就开始推动这一协定;乌拉圭谈判开始于1986年9月并于1995年1月结束;多哈会谈于2001年11月在卡塔尔正式展开,因为1999年于西雅图开始的会谈不了了之。同时,美国分别与韩国(2007)、巴拿马(2007)和哥伦比亚(2006)年签订双边自由贸易协定,但至今仍不能获得国会批准,对贸易没有造成任何影响。而且从经济角度着眼,这三个协定中只有与韩国的双边贸易意义重大。其它贸易协定和《美澳自由贸易协定》一样,主要出于政治考虑。

         贸易谈判的目的一般而言大同小异:降低关税、减少贸易障碍,即开放贸易。但是在保护就业机会目的驱动下的国内力量常常成为限制自由化进程的力量。

          某一产业希望进入贸易伙伴市场,而贸易伙伴可能因为某一国内需求而不得不保护这一产业。贸易谈判通常因为不同的需求而破裂,包括非关税障碍。例如,美国认为自己严格的环保政策急剧增加生产成本。这些产业认为他国竞争者因为面临较低的环保要求因此享受不正当竞争优势。在贸易谈判中,这些产业希望美国敦促贸易伙伴采取相同的环保要求。

          除环保标准外,美国贸易谈判中的另一焦点是劳工标准。美国认为自己的劳工保护标准是全世界最高的,包括最低工资、最长工作时间以及劳工安全。这些保护措施增加成产成本,这些产业要求国外同类产业投入同等资金以达到类似标准。贸易团体的声音尤其响亮,它们要求他国达到类似美国的劳工标准:使生产成本相当,在全球推动劳工权力,保护本国生产产业的就业机会。

          因为众多原因,环保和劳工标准是贸易谈判的焦点话题。许多国际贸易专家认为这两大事项与贸易没有关系,应当被排除在贸易谈判之外。那些支持把这两大事项包括在贸易谈判中的专家渐渐认识到每个国家的标准、目的和成本都不同,美国的标准不一定是最准确的标准。寻找共同点可能对传统贸易谈判产生干扰,也可强化国与国之间的不同之处。但是,这两大事项是美国在贸易谈判中关注的焦点,不论是共和党还是民主党总统都接受这一既成事实。

          贸易政策的三大组成部分——体系(包括贸易法和规定)、贸易补偿(调查和贸易限制)和贸易谈判——都超越了美国行政部门的权限,阻碍美国制定、坚持统一的贸易政策。中国政府可控制这三大因素,帮助中国制定、保持贸易政策。中国希望全世界相信她是自由贸易的主导力量,但是她的产品面临的贸易行动超过全世界其他国家产品面临的贸易行动的总数有其特殊根源。本文的第二部分将解释为什么中美立场迥然不同。