Monday, November 28, 2005

Mini rant plus winter pics

Well the US has lost round 4 of their insistence on taxing wood imports from Canada. Despite what you might be hearing from the talking heads on Fox news, the matter is really quite simple. The US placed a tax on wood imports because they perceived the tax credits given to lumber industries by Canada as unfair. (in spite of similar supports offered by the US to US lumber companies) Canada cried foul and the matter went to the organization charged with resolving disputes involving the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The US has been ruled against 4 times, yet the tax imposition continues.

Yes, the US invites you to sign an agreement with them and then they refuse to respect the agreement.

The result? American consumers continue to pay more for wood. American lumber conpanies continue to deplete a fast vanishing US resource because the US government (in imposing the duties on imported wood) creates a profitable environment for them. (read: gets rid of competition)

Meanwhile, Canadian lumber companies are floundering.

The US has done a classic bait and switch.

When I first came to Canada, I was shocked (SHOCKED) to find avocados for 25 cents apiece. In case you didn't know, avocados don't grow in Canada. California is the US's largest avocado producer, yet I was paying more than two dollars each for them there.

Why? Because avocado imports were not allowed into California.

For a country that places such emphasis on free enterprise and competition, it sure rings wrong in these situations.

Hypocrites. (But we're good people, I don't understand why everyone in the world hates us....)

Now that I've got that off my chest, here are a few pics from the cold weekend we had. Enjoy.


r said...

16 years ago, I was amazed that rice in Japan was $12 for 2 pounds.

Same kinda of agreement; no imported rice.

I think it's more complicated than just raising prices on imports. I'm not saying it's always a good idea, but without the protection, rice farmers in Japan would go out of business, sell their paddies to be developed into condos, and there would be even less ability for sustaining themselves.

So, the whole Avocado thing? Avocado farmers in California would go out of business, sell their orchards, and boom, more people, less agriculture.

I don't know much about the lumber.

tornwordo said...

Sure. I understand the idea behind the import duties. The problem here is that the US says "Hey, let's create a free marketplace and sign an agreement on these things" and then doesn't honor it.

Also, do we need to artificially support an industry (like avocados) that is not necessary for life? What if everyone were forced to spend all their vacation dollars within US borders?

We would be protecting our own tourism industry, but that wouldn't fly with the people now would it. Really the same principle.

Anonymous said...

Well, asking if we need to artificially support the avocado industry is boiling the whole thing down to a capitalist argument, right? So shouldn't we just get rid of all the wild open space? It isn't being maximised to it's fullest earning potential... imagine how much more money Yosemite could be churning out...

dantallion said...

This always gets me riled up. 'Let's sign an agreement that everyone must respect, except for s when it's inconvenient to us, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it'. I agree with you - Amercians ARE great people. But it's that "I'm bigger than you and I can do what I want, and I CERTAINLY don't have to respect my own word" political attitude that creates anti-American sentiment. There's a justified amount of mistrust.

As for using public funds to artificially prop up an industry - it's just that: Artificial. Phase subsidies out over time, and avocado growers (or whoever) will be forced to diversify and be more competitive. The market will stabilise, and life will go on.

_Psycho said...

I realised USA was a bad country at around 14 years old. I still realise it ;)

Nothing worst then a "free market", that they don't even respect. We saw the result last month at the big free exchange conference they tried in south america. They just look at Mexico and Canada and nobody want a free market with the US, because it's obvious that it's not fair. We should tax them the oil they import from us. They would change they mind. But the gov are big sissy.

Shauntae AuPair said...

mon dieu! It looks cold there. I was quite happy to have left the winters of Ottawa behind me. I know, there's a price for warmth (e.g. living in Texas), but damn! It's 70 F /21 C degrees outside here.

Yeah, there's the lumber. but before that it was salmon. The evil Alaskan fisheries are continuing to destroy Canadian salmon stocks and the US still hasn't moved on that issue. Not to mention the Amercans STILL won't recognize Canadian sovereignty over the arctic islands (that way they can run subs up there and shoot off cruise missles without being hassled by us). Eeeeeeeeevil.

Adam said...

I dont know much about NAFTA in detail but add this to the list of other treaties that the US is able to conveniently overlook. This story belongs right up there with the white phosphorous issue.

The snow looks nice.

t said...

The white phosphorous story pisses me off, so I'd rather comment on the photos.

Very nice pics.
That's a pose where you look like a young Pierce Brosnan.
When you smile broadly, you don't.

The Wisdom of Wislon said...

Wow you've real snow, we've just started getting sprinklings of the flyffy stuff ;-)


Tony Adams said...

For a few years, I handled US trade relations between Eastern Canada and New England, and I came to the conclusion that the only way to stop this nonsense is to obliterate the border and become one country, something I doubt we will live to see.
Regarding the great photos, I can just about feel that Montreal cold on my neck. Here, we are having an unseasonably warm time of it, and I'm just back from Fort Lauderdale where I got a bit of a burn on my thigh. Am going back for more in a couple of weeks.