April 05, 2012
Russia, a Montana stockman told
the Senate Committee on Finance last month, was “the U.S.’s fifth largest export market
for beef in 2011.”
During the same hearing, the chairman and CEO of Deere & Company testified
that the manufacturer was eager to grow its business in the Motherland. The iconic
agricultural-equipment supplier exports over a dozen product lines for final
assembly in Russia, including “large tractors and engines (Waterloo, IA);
combine harvesters (East Moline, IL); motor graders, backhoes, 4WD loaders, and
skidders (Dubuque and Davenport, IA); planters (Moline, IL); seeders (Valley
City, ND); tillage equipment and sprayers (Des Moines, IA); and precision
farming components from Iowa and North Dakota.”
Other corporations seeking expanded relationships with Russian
producers and consumers include 3M, Disney, Abbott Laboratories, Xerox, Texas
Instruments, Cargill, PepsiCo, Eli Lilly, Ford, Visa, General Electric, International
Paper, Wal-Mart, Mattel, Oracle, JPMorgan Chase, United Technologies, and Hormel.
So what in the name of Boris Yeltsin is keeping Congress
from lifting restrictions that will soon make it tougher for Americans to do
business with Russia?
“Election-year sparring,” explains The Wall Street Journal, is to blame.
Unsatisfied with limiting himself to tapping rancidly
populist anti-China sentiments, Mitt Romney has named Russia the top “geopolitical foe” of Washington’s
empire-builders. Some fedpols -- the nuttiest neocons, as well as a few
liberals -- share the soon-to-be nominee’s crusade against the Russkies. Thus,
the repeal of an
outdated trade weapon aimed at freeing Jews from Soviet oppression, and the
granting of “permanent
normal trade relations,” are at risk.
When Russia joins the World Trade Organization this summer,
it’s likely that American firms will not receive, in
the words of National Chicken Council President Mike Brown, “equal
accession to general tariff reductions, market opening measures and the ability
of U.S. interests … to seek trade relief, if necessary, through the WTO.”
If the anti-trade movement is anything, it’s adaptable. When scaremongering
over the projected loss of jobs doesn’t work, it hypes alleged compensation, workplace-safety
and environmental abuses abroad. If needed, attacking a growing trade partner for
cozy with the Republic’s “enemies” and daring
to oppose Washington’s disastrous planet-policing schemes at the UN will do
But the steady march of globalization doesn’t wait for foreign
governments to conform to the behaviors our elites prefer. Bloomberg Businessweek uncovered some revealing numbers on the share
of total revenue several of the largest U.S. companies earned overseas in
• Johnson & Johnson: 52 percent
• Hewlett-Packard: 65 percent
• Coca-Cola: 70 percent
• IBM: 70 percent
• Exxon-Mobil: 74 percent
Airbus, Europe’s corporatist
scheme to compete with hoary jet builder Boeing, provides another free-trade
mindbender. It represents an existential threat to the American aerospace industry,
right? Employees of Airbus’s contractors here would disagree. The company “spends 42 percent of its
aircraft-related procurement in the U.S. -- buying more parts, components,
tooling and other material from the United States than any other country.”
In just the last three months:
Korea’s Samsung was granted permission to build a flash-memory plant in China.
announced that in 2011, it doubled the number of vehicles sold to Indian
customers in 2010.
booming in China, declared
its intention to enter the Indonesian market.
Land Rover (a unit of India’s Tata Motors) formed a joint venture with China’s Chery
• The Financial
Times reported that “U.S. cinema admissions, which have fallen
sharply over the past decade, dipped again in 2011 although sharp growth in
international markets, particularly China,
(majority owned by Italy’s Fiat) prepared to start construction of Jeeps in Russia.
announced that profits are up 72 percent, driven by sales in Asia.
outlined a strategy to greatly increase revenue from Latin American customers.
Barring the next World War or a second Great Depression,
globalization won’t be rolled back. It’s clear that domestic political
shenanigans -- union agitprop, interventionist silliness from the
global-hegemony right or aggressive-multilateralism left, etc. -- garner votes.
Unfortunately, tactics that secure electoral victories have a tenuous connection
to what’s best for the nation’s standard of living.
Adjusted for inflation, exports to Russia grew from $3.4 billion in
2001 to $8.3 billion in 2011. While the country’s population isn’t growing, its
middle class is, and that’s why U.S. firms recognize that the
onetime Cold War foe now represents a sizable destination for their goods and
Increased trade with Russia is a no-brainer. In Washington, brains are in
D. Dowd Muska (www.dowdmuska.com) writes about government, economics, and technology. Follow him on Twitter @dowdmuska.
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