Friday, July 07, 2006

I didn't know that

The ever so 'umble plastic sack - now the target of Mr Mandelson's ireChina exports $300 million (£163 million) of plastic bags to Europe each year – or so says The Times. Isn't it amazing what you learn on this blog!

Anyhow, the reason we are told this fascinating snippet of information is that the EU wants to stop Chinese bags flooding the European market. And it is not because they open sideways.

Our ever-vigilant EU trade commissioner - fresh from his disaster in Geneva at the weekend, when the WTO talks in the latest session of the Doha round crashed and burned - is complaining that the Chinks are "dumping" their bags (i.e., selling them too cheap).

Thus, for the second time in a week – the first being to propose a 30 percent anti-dumping duty on leather shoes from China and Vietnam, including imposing import duties for the first time on children's shoes – our brave commissioner is calling for a tariff of 15.2 percent on the bags. Thailand takes a "hit" as well, with a tariff of 14.3 percent.

This will affect those modern essentials like bin bags and freezer bags, but the commission insists that these anti-dumping duties are needed to protect European plastic bag makers. The crafty Chinese and Thais, it seems, are subsidising their plastic bag producers by means such as free land and tax holidays.

All this leads to another fascinating snippet - the British Retail Consortium says the bag tariff will raise leading UK supermarkets' costs by £61 million a year. This, of course, will be passed on to consumers, to add to the £25 that the children's shoe tariffs will add to the cost of shodding the average sprog.

And, just in case you were wondering… up front in pushing for the tariffs is none other than our gallant allies across the water, the Frogs. What a long way we have come from Mr Monnet's wonderful European Community but, no doubt, he would have wholly endorsed this sensible move as being a key part of the strategy for stopping Germany going to war with France.

I may have written this before, but it is always worth repeating. Aren't we lucky to be members of the European Union!


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