Canada’s Import Laws and Taxes Are Dumb

At least that seems like a reasonable conclusion when it takes the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, a Federal Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court of Canada to figure out… whether this or that tax applies to imported hockey gloves.

This all revolved around the question of whether hockey gloves are gloves or “other articles of plastic.” Because despite the pretence of “free trade”, these categories of goods are taxed differently

Only in a country with dumb laws and dumb taxes is such a costly and ridiculous decision-making process possible for such a dumb issue.

— Read more at National Post — 

 

The TPP Is a Bureaucratic Nightmare, Not Free Trade

After all the complaining about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, until now no one actually knew what it said.

The text of the agreement, negotiated in secret by state leaders with their armies of bureaucrats and lawyers, has finally been released.

Few critics who complained about the TPP will bother to read the agreement. It is a 5,544 page monstrosity of rules and regulations. Reading such a thing is so boring it may cause aneurysms.

But even a cursory examination reveals that despite all pretense suggesting otherwise, the TPP has nothing to do with free trade.

Free trade policies can be imposed unilaterally by any country at any time, without any complex multilateral agreements. This requires only a few things:

  • Legislatures must reduce or eliminate taxes on imports (tariffs) and import quotas.
  • Legislatures must reduce or eliminate subsidies and other support to their exporters (such as foreign aid requiring purchases of goods from domestic producers).
  • Governments must stop using customs agents to force citizens — at gunpoint, if necessary — to pay tax on goods they buy from other countries .

And that’s it.

In and of itself, a “free trade” document that exceeds 5,000 pages (more than twice as long as NAFTA!) must be regarded as an indicator of trade restrictions, regardless of what such an agreement is called .

Free trade policies can be summarized in less than a page: “Imports shall not be restricted. Exports shall not be restricted.” (You can make it a bit fancier if it’s really important to you that lawyers rack up a few more billable hours.)

The TPP, negotiated by the Canadian government in collaboration with the governments of the US, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Vietnam, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia, is nothing less than the adoption of labyrinthine trade regulations and restrictions. Six other countries have expressed intent to join the TPP.

Rather than purely economic integration (which is good), the TPP represents political integration (which is bad) — harmonization of tax and regulatory structure across the member states and a decomposition of national sovereignty, especially in the realm of intellectual property. The TPP gives more power to those with the most political clout — which will never be Canadian citizens.

And the TPP allows unelected, power-hungry bureaucrats to bring lawsuits against Canadian companies if they ‘violate’ the agreement (the interpretation of which is not a simple matter).

Restrictions on trade imply only impoverishment. If Canada desires free trade, it should withdraw from the agreement and abolish all tariffs and quotas. Since exports pay for imports, this would enrich Canada and its trading partners.

And amazingly enough, this doesn’t require 5,000 pages of maze-like rules and regulations.

Harper: Free Trade is a Tax Break for China

Harper was criticized the other day for wanting to increase taxes on various imported consumer goods.

There is no defense for raising taxes ever. This is even more important when Canada will be soon in recession. So what is Harper thinking? He rightly pointed out that the Liberals had voted against budgets in which there were some tiny tax cuts. Okay, sure, the Liberals lack any principled objection to higher taxes. What was his rebuttal to their criticism on the tariff issue?

“What the Liberal Party seems to stand for, Mr. Speaker, is that somehow we should give tax breaks to emerging economies like China.”

OMG, my brain just exploded from the unbelievable stupidity of that statement. I love a good cheap shot at a Canadian political party as much as the next guy, but Harper’s statement is just dumb.

So not taxing imports is a tax break to the countries from which we are buying those imports. So a free trade policy is a tax break for our trading partners.

That is incoherent, protectionist nonsense. First of all, the importer pays the tax, not the exporter. So China is not getting the tax break, per se. It is the one importing Chinese stuff.

But then this is kind of like saying it’s a “tax break” if the government taxes anything less than 100% of your income. The meaning of “tax break” is clearly being twisted. A “tax break” is meant to be a means of reducing a tax liability that already exists. The absence of a tax is not a tax break. Adding new taxes is not the same as taking away tax breaks. The underlying philosophy revealed in Harper’s words is that the government rightfully owns everyone else’s wealth, and letting people keep anything is a tax break. The whole notion is economically utterly perverse.

The case against protectionism is logically irrefutable. Harper, like virtually all politicians, is a mercantilist who thinks protectionism is good (for his friends), meaning he is no ally of capitalism and free trade. He is a classic Canadian crony prime minister.

— Read more at CBC News. —

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