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High-Tech Protectionism: The Irrationality of Antidumping Laws

High-Tech Protectionism: The Irrationality of Antidumping Laws

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In this study, Claude Barfield explores the negative consequences of attempts to protect key U.S. manufacturing industries through the use of antidumping laws. These laws are one of the most contentious areas of international trade policy. Barfield believes antidumping laws are fundamentally at odds with the free trade policies that have dramatically improved global economic welfare over the past half-century, and their application, while problematic in any sector, is particularly troublesome in high-technology sectors.

The study analyzes how U.S. antidumping actions have been applied in four industries: supercomputers, flat-panel displays, semiconductors, and steel.

Through case studies of these industries, Barfield demonstrates both the damage antidumping actions do to market competition and their futility as weapons to save uncompetitive companies and sectors. In each case, the cost to the U.S. economy far outweighed the benefits to the protected industry. Barfield concludes by offering a series of recommendations—including repealing antidumping laws and substituting antitrust actions, or substituting safeguard actions for antidumping—for reforming, if not dismantling, the current system.