Tainted Chinese imports have become a serious problem. The Chinese government realizes this and has taken swift action, including shutting down 180 food processing plants since December and executing the former director of the its drug and safety agency for corruption.

But due to economic realities beyond that government's grasp, Chinese imports likely will continue to be a problem in the short term. That's why American importers need to step up to the plate and assume greater responsibility.

It's way too easy for American isolationists to use this issue as an excuse to raise protectionist barriers. For example, if we were to ban all food and drugs from China until they could be certified—a potentially political, complicated and very time consuming endeavor—what do we say about contaminated imports from other countries? And what would other countries say about tainted imports from the United States?

In June 2007 alone, the Food and Drug Administration refused 39 shipments from the United Kingdom, 26 from Switzerland, 38 from Japan, and almost 1,000 from 74 other countries—including 37 shipments of American goods that were exported, then imported back into the United States. Do we ban these imports until certified?

As expected, isolationists will use this issue to build a dangerously misleading case against China, America's latest scapegoat—after Japan in the 1970s and 1980s, and Mexico in the 1990s—for all of our economic ills.

America's trade detractors continue to deceive the public by saying Chinese imports are responsible for most American job losses. The truth: Chinese trade benefits American businesses and families enormously.

In fact, by 2010, Chinese trade is projected to boost U.S. real disposable income per household by $1,000 per year, according to Oxford Economics, an economic forecaster associated with London's Oxford University. And this is on top of current annual income gains of $10,000 for each American household attributable to overall trade and globalization.

Protectionists often single out imports as bad for our economy. In reality, they offer U.S. consumers greater choices and lower costs. In turn, this affords American families more disposable income for education, healthcare and rent. In addition to keeping inflation down, inexpensive imported components help keep U.S. producers competitive.

Imports, however, are responsible for some jobs losses, but far fewer than many think. The Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic-led think tank, says all U.S. imports combined only are responsible for 2-5 percent of U.S. job losses.

If all U.S. tariffs were eliminated today, a move that would increase imports, the U.S. International Trade Commission says "60,000 workers would move from contracting sectors to expanding sectors." This represents 0.04 percent of the 146 million-strong U.S. labor force. The report also says U.S. economic welfare would increase by $3.7 billion annually.

Technological advancements and strong productivity growth—not China—are responsible for most American job losses. This has empowered fewer workers to more than double U.S. manufacturing shipments since 1986—actions that have improved our standard of living.

Today, one in every five jobs is linked to exports and imports, according to a recent study by the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies. Isolationists continually ignore this, and need to take a new snapshot of the world.

China is quickly becoming the second most powerful nation. America will be much better off viewing China as a partner—especially against terrorism—rather than an adversary. And American companies are wise to work with Chinese firms to make their products and services more attractive worldwide, a process that creates more higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs in the United States.

Does this mean we should turn a blind eye to Chinese tainted imports? No. But we should view them with a balanced perspective, and understand that friends can accomplish much more than enemies. "Who lost China?" was repeatedly asked after 1949 when that country became Communist. Let's not have to ask the question again.

This article appeared in Impact Analysis, September-October 2007, Bankers' Association for Finance and Trade, Summer 2007, and was syndicated by McClatchy-Tribune in August 2007 and appeared in the San Diego-Union Tribune, Newport Dailey News, Columbus Dispatch, Traverse City Record Eagle, Duluth News-Tribune, Connecticut Sunday Post, Durham Sunday Herald-Sun, Charleston Sunday Gazette, Kansas City Sunday Star, La Crosse Sunday Tribune, Cadillac News, Glen Falls Post-Star, Bradenton Herald, Arizona Daily Star, Dallas Morning News, Charlotte Observer, Augusta Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Modesto Bee, Miami Herald, Danbury News-Times, Moline Sunday Dispatch, Buffalo News, Bloomington Sunday Pantagraph, Fresno Sunday Bee, Chattanooga Sunday Times & Free-Press, Pueblo Sunday Chieftain & Star-Journal, Mesa Sunday East Valley Tribune.

John Manzella
About The Author John Manzella [Full Bio]
John Manzella, founder of the ManzellaReport.com, is a world-recognized speaker, author and nationally syndicated columnist on global business, trade policy, labor, and economic trends. His latest book is Global America: Understanding Global and Economic Trends and How To Ensure Competitiveness.

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