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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Currency Wars: China Should Impose Green Taxes on its Exports

This is both creative and unlikely:

Currency wars: China should impose green taxes on its exports, by Gérard Roland, Vox EU: US and European policymakers have been clamoring about starting a currency war against China to force it to appreciate its currency. Even Paul Krugman, whose economic insights have been so precious in the Great Recession, is loudly supporting the Levin bill giving the Obama administration more power to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. A lesson from the Great Depression was that moves to impose tariffs on one’s competitors spiral into a global trade war that brings international trade into a nosedive and leads to even more global economic misery.
Let us, for once, look at the issue calmly from the Chinese side. Exchange-rate policy is in the end not decided by the Chinese Central Bank but by the Politburo. The more they feel bullied into appreciating their currency, the more they will resist such calls. Their decision has nothing to do with the exact extent of under-appreciation of the Chinese currency and all to do with showing that China will not let itself be humiliated again by the west as during the opium wars and the period of territorial concessions. ... China will not let itself be bullied to submission... Doing so would immediately undermine the position of the current leaders.
The sad thing is that this tension has pushed China into a corner. It would be in the interest of the Chinese economy to let its currency appreciate. ... Unfortunately this is not going to happen because such a move would be interpreted as “yielding to the west” and thus politically unpalatable, and even suicidal, by the Chinese leaders.
There is a creative solution that would show genuine international leadership on the part of Chinese leaders: start imposing a green tax on Chinese exports. This would have the same effect as an import tariff imposed on the US side but the revenue would instead go to the Chinese government. If they use the tariff revenues solely for green investments to reduce Chinese carbon emissions, they would achieve two goals at the same time: 1) reduce the international currency tensions that risk leading to dangerous trade wars while saving face, 2) show international leadership in adjustment to climate change. China has, after all, become a main manufacturing hub in today’s world economy and it seems only normal that all countries that benefit from Chinese goods pay their part in reducing carbon emissions related to that manufacturing process. If Chinese leaders were bold and creative enough to make such a move, it would certainly not be enough to shame US politicians into doing something about climate change but it would further isolate the all-too-large-lunatic fringe in the US that claims that climate change is a hoax. It would certainly do a lot to show that Chinese leaders are able to think beyond the sole interests of their country and exercise some international leadership in one of the most important issues of the twenty-first century.

    Posted by on Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 12:51 PM in China, Economics, Financial System | Permalink  Comments (49)


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