Protectionism is no road to prosperity: Letter

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Sir: Edward Luttwak ("Your job can be safe again. Here's how", 6 April) fails to mention that the imports "reduced by Buchanan's high tariffs" are nominally American, in part at least. "Expensive" US domestic production is being displaced by cheap US overseas production; American capital, "American" labels, but made by foreign workers.

The same is occurring on this side of the Atlantic, and not a single major party seems to have anything to say on the matter. British companies have exported jobs to China, and elsewhere, where authoritarian regimes can guarantee a quiescent workforce, often condemned to virtual serfdom. British firms import the result, bearing a "British" label. In some product ranges it is now nearly impossible for the British consumer to buy an item which is not made in China. This is not free trade.

Our Government's response is to "compete", to reduce conditions among British workers to the level of those "enjoyed" by the slaves who have displaced them. Tory attitudes to the situation are highlighted by two events in recent years. One was a European decision to place quotas on imports of a range of goods from China; the second was a move to insist on improved labour conditions in Third World exporting countries, and so reduce the level of unfair competition. The British government resisted both moves. Meanwhile Labour has little to say on the matter.

Those thrown out of work here by such transfers of production cannot sustain their consumption. So employers producing in Britain for the domestic market find business increasingly difficult. Some will in turn move abroad, while others go under.

Tom Kilcourse

Colyton, Devon

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