Arguments in Support of Restricting Imports

Self-Check Questions

Explain how predatory pricing could be a motivation for dumping.


If imports can be sold at extremely low prices, domestic firms would have to match those prices to be competitive. By definition, matching prices would imply selling under cost and, therefore, losing money. Firms cannot sustain losses forever. When they leave the industry, importers can “take over,” raising prices to monopoly levels to cover their short-term losses and earn long-term profits.

Why do low-income countries like Brazil, Egypt, or Vietnam have lower environmental standards than high-income countries like the Germany, Japan, or the United States?


Because low-income countries need to provide necessities—food, clothing, and shelter—to their people. In other words, they consider environmental quality a luxury.

Explain the logic behind the “race to the bottom” argument and the likely reason it has not occurred.


Low-income countries can compete for jobs by reducing their environmental standards to attract business to their countries. This could lead to a competitive reduction in regulations, which would lead to greater environmental damage. While pollution management is a cost for businesses, it is tiny relative to other costs, like labor and adequate infrastructure. It is also costly for firms to locate far away from their customers, which many low-income countries are.

What are the conditions under which a country may use the unsafe products argument to block imports?


The decision should not be arbitrary or unnecessarily discriminatory. It should treat foreign companies the same way as domestic companies. It should be based on science.

Why is the national security argument not convincing?


Restricting imports today does not solve the problem. If anything, it makes it worse since it implies using up domestic sources of the products faster than if they are imported. Also, the national security argument can be used to support protection of nearly any product, not just things critical to our national security.

Assume a perfectly competitive market and the exporting country is small. Using a demand and supply diagram, show the impact of increasing standards on a low-income exporter of toys. Show the tariff's impact. Is the effect on toy prices the same or different? Why is a standards policy preferred to tariffs?


The effect of increasing standards may increase costs to the small exporting country. The supply curve of toys will shift to the left. Exports will decrease and toy prices will rise. Tariffs also raise prices. So the effect on the price of toys is the same. A tariff is a “second best” policy and also affects other sectors. However, a common standard across countries is a “first best” policy that attacks the problem at its root.