Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Florida city proposes ban on goods from China

By Tom Leonard in New York
Telegraph UK: Last Updated: 2:24am GMT 30/10/2007

A Florida city may become the first in America to ban Chinese products amid mounting national concern about the Asian giant's effect on the US economy.

US city proposes ban on Chinese goods
Made in China: In 2006 the US imported goods worth $288 billion from China

John Mazziotti, the mayor of Palm Bay, proposed the ban after the latest spate of safety-related recalls of Chinese-made toys and pet food.

He not only cited the goods' questionable quality and safety but also China's human rights abuses, its pollution record and the loss of US manufacturing jobs due to cheap Chinese imports.

If approved by the city council, the ban would stop the city from buying Chinese-made products costing more than $50 (£25) or those which have more than half of their parts made in China.

A product could be bought if it were not available from any other country or if an alternative would cost 150 per cent or more of the Chinese version's price.


The ban would not affect residents and private firms, which could still buy whatever they wanted.

Mr Mazziotti said: "I don't think people have the slightest idea how much is from China. I remind people every day. Pick up that label and see where it's made. You might surprise yourself.

"Palm Bay is not going to change the world but this raises public awareness.

"We are losing out on this war of economics. It's free trade for them but not for us."

His idea had received considerable support from Palm Bay's largely blue collar, 107,000-strong population, said Mr Mazziotti.

His hope that other parts of America will follow suit may be fulfilled.

His sentiments are widely shared in a country that increasingly likes to blame China for its economic woes.

After millions of Chinese-made toys containing lead paint were recalled in August, 65 per cent of Americans said they were trying to avoid buying products made in China, a Gallup poll found.

Sara Bongiorni has just written a book about how her family boycotted all Chinese-made products for an entire year. She reported having great difficulty finding many items, including electronics goods, coffee makers, birthday candles and cheap sunglasses, not made in China.

China exported goods worth $288 billion to the US in 2006, including $65 billion in televisions and other electronics, $21 billion in toys, games and sports equipment, and $20 billion of clothes.

But although Chinese goods account for 16 per cent of foreign imports into the US, America's biggest trading partner is Canada.

Opponents of any move against Chinese imports point out their cheapness has saved American consumers more than $600 billion in the past decade, according to a Morgan Stanley report.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

No comments: