Universal Postal Union Treaty Withdrawal in mid-October 2019

Pierre Smith

Registered
I did some brief Googling, and have found nearly no support for leaving the current system in place. An exception is this piece in the Hill whose headline promised to explain “Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US”. The arguments are predictably weak.
  • First off is that it keeps prices down (we dispensed with this earlier)
You didn't dispense with anything. In fact, you ranted around the main points.

This move will push up the costs of imports, and when people are spending more of their income on the same things that's not positive. In the long run, it may be a better result for the country - maybe - but in the short and medium terms, no, obviously. It's not just these post-shipped items that will go up in cost (by a lot), it's everything else too until there's a significant increase in capacity to meet the demand levels after the post-shipped products are transitioned to ocean freight. Remember, ocean freight shipping includes everything from hauling/handling at export to the longer clearance at CPB, CLC costs, the costs of port backups, the works. Capacity issues like, say, a trucker shortage like we have, are bottlenecks that increase costs. These costs will be borne by everyone who moves cargo, not just the producers of products currently shipping by post. Importers/exporters will eat some of the cost in the form of a lower margin, but ultimately this cost increase will be passed onto the consumer.

Now, you can argue that there's a benefit to the US pocketbook (subsidy elimination + sales tax capture > decline in spending on services as a result of decreased purchasing power), you can argue that this move is an important minor play in the global strategic competition with China, and you can even possibly argue that the US economy over the longer term will be better off if we use higher prices on imports to throw business to Mexico, or bring it back here, or increase automation. But there's absolutely nobody with any brains who would say that making consumers pay more for products is positive from an economic perspective in itself, or that it will have no effect. It may be good that people consume fewer products from an ecological perspective, but slicing into purchasing power is not good, and taking an action certain to do that must be balanced by a nuanced discussion of the true value/cost of that mail subsidy.

As I said, this is the nuance we need when we're evaluating decisions like this, not just assuming that the other side is operating in bad faith or is foolish, and spouting your points off more loudly than anyone else in the room. Like, you're dead wrong on this argument, but not because the articles you read gave you bad information. Yeah, there's bad information there, but you're wrong on this because the argument I'm making is about how uninformed people (like yourself) feel free to shameless voice their opinions as if they're obviously correct because those opinions are politically formed, instead of seeking to inform yourself, weigh the pros and cons, and come to a position dialectically. The background on the cost was just prefatory.
 

Ries

Registered
The Obama administration did not decide to subsidize Chinese postage. This an international agreement- It was first negotiated in 1874, under Ulysses S Grant, who was, I seem to recall, a republican, which of course, is as meaningless as the fact the Obama is a democrat. 192 countries are in this Union, and decide, together, how the rates should work. I am not sure what the date was where it was decided that China is a "transitional" country, and thus entitled to lower postal charges for delivering its mail to other countries, but my guess is that it was 20 to 40 years ago- well before Obama.
What a normal country would do is petition the UPU, in Switzerland, to reconsider China's status as a poor transitional country- peacefully, under the terms of the the global agreement. Most likely everyone would agree that China is now a developing superpower, and can pay more for postage. This would take a couple years, and then be approved.
Trump, instead, has thrown a temper tantrum and pulled the US out of the agreement, with all 192 other countries. That means that every single other country can charge the US sender whatever surcharge they want in addition to the US postage. Some may require a separate negotiation and agreement, some may just continue the way they have been- its up to them. Trump has fired pretty much everybody capable of negotiating, so, most likely, many overseas shipments from the USA will be much more expensive.

Again- nothing to do with Obama. Not a postage rate that is changeable without a vote of all the members, unless, like Trump, you take all your toys and go home, and drop out of the entire global network of postal agreements.
The UPU has proposed 3 different solutions to this, but the US prefers to just drop out, instead.

The reason Trump says he is doing this is threefold-

1- to bring manufacturing back to the USA, by buying less from China.
Under Trump, the US trade deficit has INCREASED- so that one isnt working.
2- to get back at Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, because the Bezos owned Washington Post hasnt been "nice" or "fair" to Trump.
Trump is on the record numerous times trying to figure out ways to screw Amazon to get back at Bezos. He tried to get the US post office to raise prices on Amazon alone, but they politely explained that it was illegal...
3- to prove to his base that he is "tough" on China.

When I talk about returning tube sock factories to the USA, its because Trump has promised, again and again, that his toughness on China will return manufacturing to the USA. This has proven not to be true, but he keeps saying it anyway. Tube socks are a good example of a product that the US used to dominate, and now makes none of, and that is not coming back.
 

TheDonald

Registered
You didn't dispense with anything. In fact, you ranted around the main points.

This move will push up the costs of imports, and when people are spending more of their income on the same things that's not positive. In the long run, it may be a better result for the country - maybe - but in the short and medium terms, no, obviously. It's not just these post-shipped items that will go up in cost (by a lot), it's everything else too until there's a significant increase in capacity to meet the demand levels after the post-shipped products are transitioned to ocean freight. Remember, ocean freight shipping includes everything from hauling/handling at export to the longer clearance at CPB, CLC costs, the costs of port backups, the works. Capacity issues like, say, a trucker shortage like we have, are bottlenecks that increase costs. These costs will be borne by everyone who moves cargo, not just the producers of products currently shipping by post. Importers/exporters will eat some of the cost in the form of a lower margin, but ultimately this cost increase will be passed onto the consumer.

Now, you can argue that there's a benefit to the US pocketbook (subsidy elimination + sales tax capture > decline in spending on services as a result of decreased purchasing power), you can argue that this move is an important minor play in the global strategic competition with China, and you can even possibly argue that the US economy over the longer term will be better off if we use higher prices on imports to throw business to Mexico, or bring it back here, or increase automation. But there's absolutely nobody with any brains who would say that making consumers pay more for products is positive from an economic perspective in itself, or that it will have no effect. It may be good that people consume fewer products from an ecological perspective, but slicing into purchasing power is not good, and taking an action certain to do that must be balanced by a nuanced discussion of the true value/cost of that mail subsidy.

As I said, this is the nuance we need when we're evaluating decisions like this, not just assuming that the other side is operating in bad faith or is foolish, and spouting your points off more loudly than anyone else in the room. Like, you're dead wrong on this argument, but not because the articles you read gave you bad information. Yeah, there's bad information there, but you're wrong on this because the argument I'm making is about how uninformed people (like yourself) feel free to shameless voice their opinions as if they're obviously correct because those opinions are politically formed, instead of seeking to inform yourself, weigh the pros and cons, and come to a position dialectically. The background on the cost was just prefatory.
Your argument is one-dimensional. And nothing in economics has one dimension.

1) The UPU is a subsidy to foreign shippers. They are allowed to send packages to the US at below market cost. This does not come for free. This subsidy is paid for by the US Treasury when it reimburses the USPS for mail shipped under UPU. The US Treasury is supported by US corporations and taxpayers. In other words, I order a charger cord and it costs $2 below market, so I save $2. However, my taxes paid to the US Treasury rise by $2. To me, $2 = $2.

Your consumer price argument assumes that consumers pay less and that's the end of the story. When a subsidy is involved, it is never the end of the story. In economics, there is no such thing as free. To conclude: the American consumer does not really benefit from the UPU. American taxpayers give it all back in the form of higher taxes.

2) If American taxpayers finance the UPU, then who benefits? Answer: the benefit is split between the American consumer (which is offset by increased taxes - as we already established) and the Chinese importer. Under the UPU, the supply curve shifts to the right and down, meaning the price is below true production cost, and this increases demand to a level far greater than would be the case under normal market forces. This is called "market distortion." Not only does the Chinese importer have an insurmountable competitive advantage on price (cuz it costs less to ship the charger cord from Shanghai than it does from Chicago), but the volume of sales goes way, way up. In other words, the Chinese importer gets a double benefit: a lower price than better situated domestic competitors, combined with artificially high volume of sales.

Conclusion: there is no net benefit to the American consumer. All benefit flows to the Chinese importer - and due to increased volume, that benefit is exponentially higher than economics would dictate under market forces.

I don't know about you, Pierre. Perhaps you are Canadian or French. If you are the latter, perhaps you feel dapper in your yellow vest. But I am an American. I don't like my tax dollars being sent to China to subsidize their imports at the expense of my American countrymen. If China can compete on fair production costs when full transportation expenses are included, more power to 'em. In such a case, American industry needs to get more efficient or die. But when foreign importers are given insurmountable competitive advantages over domestic ones, that's just stupid, unpatriotic and uneconomic.

3) Importation policy around the world is based on neutrality or protectionism. The US sends gasoline and diesel to Mexico tariff free because Mexico needs our refined petroleum products. So when all costs are included the US imports refined petro products to Mexico at $1 for $1. The costs are the same as the import price. Argentina, under CFK, taxed electronic imports at $1 to $1.50. There were 50% taxes on such products.

So you see Pierre, either $1 for $1 or $1 for $1.50. Neutral or protectionist.

Under the UPU, China is importing products into the US at $1 for $.80 cents. It costs China less than the true costs to import their plastic crap into the US. I don't know if there is another trade agreement like the UPU in the entire world - where importers are given an insurmountable competitive price advantage over domestic competitors. I would challenge anyone to find such a situation. Repeat: find me a situation where foreign importers are given economic preference over domestic producers. I'm pretty sure you could scour the entire world and not find such an agreement.

The UPU is outright economic nonsense and harmful to America.
 

ben

Registered
The Obama administration did not decide to subsidize Chinese postage. This an international agreement- It was first negotiated in 1874, under Ulysses S Grant, who was, I seem to recall, a republican, which of course, is as meaningless as the fact the Obama is a democrat. 192 countries are in this Union, and decide, together, how the rates should work. I am not sure what the date was where it was decided that China is a "transitional" country, and thus entitled to lower postal charges for delivering its mail to other countries, but my guess is that it was 20 to 40 years ago- well before Obama.
What a normal country would do is petition the UPU, in Switzerland, to reconsider China's status as a poor transitional country- peacefully, under the terms of the the global agreement. Most likely everyone would agree that China is now a developing superpower, and can pay more for postage. This would take a couple years, and then be approved.
Trump, instead, has thrown a temper tantrum and pulled the US out of the agreement, with all 192 other countries. That means that every single other country can charge the US sender whatever surcharge they want in addition to the US postage. Some may require a separate negotiation and agreement, some may just continue the way they have been- its up to them. Trump has fired pretty much everybody capable of negotiating, so, most likely, many overseas shipments from the USA will be much more expensive.

Again- nothing to do with Obama. Not a postage rate that is changeable without a vote of all the members, unless, like Trump, you take all your toys and go home, and drop out of the entire global network of postal agreements.
The UPU has proposed 3 different solutions to this, but the US prefers to just drop out, instead.

The reason Trump says he is doing this is threefold-

1- to bring manufacturing back to the USA, by buying less from China.
Under Trump, the US trade deficit has INCREASED- so that one isnt working.
2- to get back at Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, because the Bezos owned Washington Post hasnt been "nice" or "fair" to Trump.
Trump is on the record numerous times trying to figure out ways to screw Amazon to get back at Bezos. He tried to get the US post office to raise prices on Amazon alone, but they politely explained that it was illegal...
3- to prove to his base that he is "tough" on China.

When I talk about returning tube sock factories to the USA, its because Trump has promised, again and again, that his toughness on China will return manufacturing to the USA. This has proven not to be true, but he keeps saying it anyway. Tube socks are a good example of a product that the US used to dominate, and now makes none of, and that is not coming back.
I specifically declined to address this in the context of Trump’s general trade policy. You will get no argument from me that his foreign policy, including the trade war with China, is well thought-out, indeed thought out at all or even coherent.

Indeed, let’s make a non-exhaustive list of things I did not say:

a) Trump has no ulterior motives.
b) Trump doesn’t want to screw with Amazon. (Note, however, that the article you linked has Amazon supporting the US position).
b) Trump doesn’t like to provide red meat for his base.
c) The tube sock factories are coming back to the USA. (Can we all agree, though, that the US taxpayer shouldn’t be paying for shipping those tube socks from wherever they are made at a loss?)
d) The UPU regime never made sense. (1874 was a long time ago).
e) Not fixing it was Obama’s fault more than that of any prior administration (prior to China’s becoming a major economic power).

My points, rather, are:

a) of all the places where a brute-force approach makes sense, the UPU may well be the best (only?) example;
b) Trump has ranted about other countries ripping us off since ever, well before he decided Amazon was an enemy;
c) whereas a lot of said ranting is nonsense, the postal situation is absurd and has been for a long time;
d) petitioning - nicely - the UPU (or other such methods) was, in the past, was not tried; or did not work; or some combination of the two.
 

ben

Registered
Your argument is one-dimensional. And nothing in economics has one dimension.

1) The UPU is a subsidy to foreign shippers. They are allowed to send packages to the US at below market cost. This does not come for free. This subsidy is paid for by the US Treasury when it reimburses the USPS for mail shipped under UPU. The US Treasury is supported by US corporations and taxpayers. In other words, I order a charger cord and it costs $2 below market, so I save $2. However, my taxes paid to the US Treasury rise by $2. To me, $2 = $2.

Your consumer price argument assumes that consumers pay less and that's the end of the story. When a subsidy is involved, it is never the end of the story. In economics, there is no such thing as free. To conclude: the American consumer does not really benefit from the UPU. American taxpayers give it all back in the form of higher taxes.

2) If American taxpayers finance the UPU, then who benefits? Answer: the benefit is split between the American consumer (which is offset by increased taxes - as we already established) and the Chinese importer. Under the UPU, the supply curve shifts to the right and down, meaning the price is below true production cost, and this increases demand to a level far greater than would be the case under normal market forces. This is called "market distortion." Not only does the Chinese importer have an insurmountable competitive advantage on price (cuz it costs less to ship the charger cord from Shanghai than it does from Chicago), but the volume of sales goes way, way up. In other words, the Chinese importer gets a double benefit: a lower price than better situated domestic competitors, combined with artificially high volume of sales.

Conclusion: there is no net benefit to the American consumer. All benefit flows to the Chinese importer - and due to increased volume, that benefit is exponentially higher than economics would dictate under market forces.

I don't know about you, Pierre. Perhaps you are Canadian or French. If you are the latter, perhaps you feel dapper in your yellow vest. But I am an American. I don't like my tax dollars being sent to China to subsidize their imports at the expense of my American countrymen. If China can compete on fair production costs when full transportation expenses are included, more power to 'em. In such a case, American industry needs to get more efficient or die. But when foreign importers are given insurmountable competitive advantages over domestic ones, that's just stupid, unpatriotic and uneconomic.

3) Importation policy around the world is based on neutrality or protectionism. The US sends gasoline and diesel to Mexico tariff free because Mexico needs our refined petroleum products. So when all costs are included the US imports refined petro products to Mexico at $1 for $1. The costs are the same as the import price. Argentina, under CFK, taxed electronic imports at $1 to $1.50. There were 50% taxes on such products.

So you see Pierre, either $1 for $1 or $1 for $1.50. Neutral or protectionist.

Under the UPU, China is importing products into the US at $1 for $.80 cents. It costs China less than the true costs to import their plastic crap into the US. I don't know if there is another trade agreement like the UPU in the entire world - where importers are given an insurmountable competitive price advantage over domestic competitors. I would challenge anyone to find such a situation. Repeat: find me a situation where foreign importers are given economic preference over domestic producers. I'm pretty sure you could scour the entire world and not find such an agreement.

The UPU is outright economic nonsense and harmful to America.
I was debating whether to respond to @Pierre Smith or not. The combination of a dumb argument (has it not been stressed enough that the US taxpayer is subsidizing these cheap prices?) and ad hominems bordering on wacky (“uninformed people (like yourself) feel free to shameless voice their opinions”... whaaat?) does not make for an interesting debate invitation.

Anyways, the question is moot, because the above response is perfect.
 

Pierre Smith

Registered
Your argument is one-dimensional. And nothing in economics has one dimension.

1) The UPU is a subsidy to foreign shippers. They are allowed to send packages to the US at below market cost. This does not come for free. This subsidy is paid for by the US Treasury when it reimburses the USPS for mail shipped under UPU. The US Treasury is supported by US corporations and taxpayers. In other words, I order a charger cord and it costs $2 below market, so I save $2. However, my taxes paid to the US Treasury rise by $2. To me, $2 = $2.

Your consumer price argument assumes that consumers pay less and that's the end of the story. When a subsidy is involved, it is never the end of the story. In economics, there is no such thing as free. To conclude: the American consumer does not really benefit from the UPU. American taxpayers give it all back in the form of higher taxes.

2) If American taxpayers finance the UPU, then who benefits? Answer: the benefit is split between the American consumer (which is offset by increased taxes - as we already established) and the Chinese importer. Under the UPU, the supply curve shifts to the right and down, meaning the price is below true production cost, and this increases demand to a level far greater than would be the case under normal market forces. This is called "market distortion." Not only does the Chinese importer have an insurmountable competitive advantage on price (cuz it costs less to ship the charger cord from Shanghai than it does from Chicago), but the volume of sales goes way, way up. In other words, the Chinese importer gets a double benefit: a lower price than better situated domestic competitors, combined with artificially high volume of sales.

Conclusion: there is no net benefit to the American consumer. All benefit flows to the Chinese importer - and due to increased volume, that benefit is exponentially higher than economics would dictate under market forces.

I don't know about you, Pierre. Perhaps you are Canadian or French. If you are the latter, perhaps you feel dapper in your yellow vest. But I am an American. I don't like my tax dollars being sent to China to subsidize their imports at the expense of my American countrymen. If China can compete on fair production costs when full transportation expenses are included, more power to 'em. In such a case, American industry needs to get more efficient or die. But when foreign importers are given insurmountable competitive advantages over domestic ones, that's just stupid, unpatriotic and uneconomic.

3) Importation policy around the world is based on neutrality or protectionism. The US sends gasoline and diesel to Mexico tariff free because Mexico needs our refined petroleum products. So when all costs are included the US imports refined petro products to Mexico at $1 for $1. The costs are the same as the import price. Argentina, under CFK, taxed electronic imports at $1 to $1.50. There were 50% taxes on such products.

So you see Pierre, either $1 for $1 or $1 for $1.50. Neutral or protectionist.

Under the UPU, China is importing products into the US at $1 for $.80 cents. It costs China less than the true costs to import their plastic crap into the US. I don't know if there is another trade agreement like the UPU in the entire world - where importers are given an insurmountable competitive price advantage over domestic competitors. I would challenge anyone to find such a situation. Repeat: find me a situation where foreign importers are given economic preference over domestic producers. I'm pretty sure you could scour the entire world and not find such an agreement.

The UPU is outright economic nonsense and harmful to America.
Well, you're making an argument at least. So, all sorts of foreign industries are given an advantage coming to market to benefit the US consumer, look no further than the Generalized System of Preferences, most favored national status, and more. A streamlined CBP process or waiver of duties is as much a 'subsidy' in the sense you describe if you're looking at the cost of bringing something to market.

Anyway, you're saying that the US is subsidizing foreign competition to notional domestic producers of these productions. Well, no kidding. You've just explained something I assumed was obvious, leaving aside the fact that these are imported goods and what we're talking about - which, again, I keep mentioning - is US producers bringing these products to market by importation via ocean freight and introduced into the stream of commerce by some (notionally) US-based companies. I'm happy to see this: I work in importing/exporting, mostly out of Port of Oakland and Port of Long Beach.

What I'm saying - and this is my last comment here, since you all just can't seem to take it on board - is that withdrawing US government subsidies of consumer products, whatever their source, will have an effect and that this effect should be considered when we're talking about withdrawing subsidies. This UPU move may be good for the US in the long run, but it's not a straightforwardly obvious positive to push up the cost of these products by a lot, and to push up the costs of all importants by some non-trivial amount. Like, the person who says "I don't want my taxes going to Chinese producers" is not taking a very nuanced position. You see this across the debate right now - one side says "no illegals," the other side says "let the illegals stay" and the people in industry have to tap both sides on the shoulder and remind them that the cost of food in the US is directly tied to the ability of growers to get seasonal pickers, or slaughterhouse workers, or whatever. If you boot the illegals, you drive up the cost of food. If you legalilze them, they'll get better jobs and you'll push up the price of food (unless you get more illegals). Maybe it's better for the country that the cost of food goes up and that the government stops subsidizing it by allowing producers to keep wages artificially low with illegal foreign labor.

There's more. Leaving aside the fact that we're running giant deficits, so that it's US bondhonders or our future descendants who are paying, the simple fact - which again, I assumed was obvious but which I'll spell out here - is that these sorts of subsidies are stimulative, that is, everyone benefits but only some (taxpayers) pay, and that's proportional with the progressive income tax. I'm not talking about the money that's going to the Chinese seller, I'm talking about the money that's spent on other things that would not be spent on those things if the cost of the China-sourced product were higher - ie. increased consumer purchasing power. I'm not sure if you've read much about economics at an academic level, but just from your experience in Argentina you can get a sense of what happens to consumption of services when the cost of consumer goods increases - the lower you go down the income ladder, the greater the knock-on effects reverberate across different classes of services consumption. Again, all of this is obvious, and it may still be a good idea to kill subsidies like the UPU has.

What I'm saying - and your and the other gentleman's posts are actually making this point for me as well as I could - is that all of these effects are context that should be weighed in a nuanced debate, and that scorched earth, politically-informed exchanges that do not contain very much valuable information, these are a problem. And again, I work in importing/exporting, so I'm all for moving this stuff onto ocean freight, having it all go through the CBP process, getting into warehouses here, and the rest. But, I recognize that when we're talking about politics, we need to look at the broader impacts of a given policy, and having an honest, informed discussion about that.
 
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ben

Registered
Looks like bajo has got himself English-speaking company.

Well, you're making an argument at least.
Right, it’s not like I said in the same post to which you reacted so indignantly, “To the extent that reduces the cost to the consumer, it’s an artificial reduction paid for by the US taxpayer, and should not be happening.”
I mean, you don’t have to read what I write, but kindly grant me the courtesy of not misquoting me.

So, all sorts of foreign industries are given an advantage coming to market to benefit the US consumer, look no further than the Generalized System of Preferences, most favored national status, and more. A streamlined CBP process or waiver of duties is as much a 'subsidy' in the sense you describe if you're looking at the cost of bringing something to market.
Yes, charging less (or no) import duties is the same thing as the US government paying its own (taxpayers’) money to ship this stuff from China. AYFKM?!

More broadly, if you’re going to give China or anyone else a subsidy, the place to decide to that is in trade negotiations. They are above board, they are agreed to, they are public, they are subject to scrutiny and debate. That is not the case with the UPU. It’s an antiquated agreement (as noted before, from 1974) that has become the catalyst for a major economic distortion that bears no relation to the reality when the pact was concluded.

I went back and reread your posts in case I missed anything, and it appears to all boil down to:
  • Nothing in life is completely black and white!
  • If you stop paying Chinese exporters to send stuff here, the price of that stuff will go up!
To which the rather obvious rejoinders are 1) duh, genius got it, thanks; 2) yes, we realize that, it still makes no sense.

If you’re for taxing some Americans in order to lower prices for other Americans, go ahead and tax them. That would:
  1. avoid piping that money through Chinese manufacturing, with a big chunk getting stuck along the way;
  2. make the policy official, and subject to debate as to why on earth would we do this.
    And everybody understands, including even Pierre I’d assume, that (but for being bound by a century-old agreement that nobody really wants to renegotiate) there’s no way in hell the US would pay China to send their stuff over. Even if that stuff would then be cheaper (duh!).
The current situation is a massive market distortion with little justification and certainly no intentional decision. Pretending it is won’t make it so.
 
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ghost

Registered
One thing that Pierre is saying, which some full time Argentine resident expats may not be aware of- In the last few years, Amazon has completely changed the American retail landscape. Everybody else is losing market share, and often, going broke entirely- we are seeing entire shopping malls close, big players like department stores and chains like Sears vanish entirely overnight.

And Amazon consists of 40% chinese vendors who ship direct from China. The biggest retailer in the USA, and 40% of its business is affected by this rule. So a gigantic amount of everyday purchases by ordinary people will go up in price.

Americans buy an incredible amount of normal things on Amazon- If you have prime, shipping is free. I buy canned catfood, for instance, as its delivered to my door, at a 30% discount from driving 20 minutes and buying it at the grocery store. It doesnt come from China, but yesterday, I got a package of screw eyes in the mail that did- again, at half the price of the local hardware store, which doesnt stock that size anyway, and without the 3 bucks in gas it would have cost me to drive to town. This is normal- everyday my mailman in the US delivers between 300 and 500 parcels on my route alone, from Amazon, and about half are direct from China.
(I live both in the USA and in Buenos Aires, and have for 12 years now, if you wonder how I manage to buy on Amazon)


Long term, I am actually in favor of raising the price of USPS from China, and restricting the flow of cheap crap- even though I do benefit from it, its often something I have very mixed feelings about. It will help some US companies. Certainly it will not suddenly create millions of new US jobs, or, affect foreign trade deficits much- just shift them to other countries.

But Trump is doing this strictly for political propaganda reasons- he has no clue of the economics, and doesnt care. And it will have a big effect.

There is no way that tube sock or cigarette lighter factories will come back to the USA. The low cost, low quality consumer goods manufacturing is actually leaving China, as China is too expensive in terms of wages and costs these days, and moving down to Vietnam, Bangladesh, the Phillipines and Indonesia.

So, yes, many products will just get more expensive in the USA. The cost of a dollar plastic lighter at the gas station may double- but that is not going to spell a huge increase in sales for $50 US made Zippos.

And, yes, it will affect mailing in ballots for US citizens overseas, which will require paying more and planning more. That part of it could easily be corrected by the US government, but Trump wins by having fewer people vote, so he wont do it. Perhaps his successor will fix it.
Sears did not die because of Amazon. Try arbitrage, for starters.
However,Trump views Jeff Besos as his personal enemy and will do anything to harm him.
And you are correct, Trump knows less that nothing about trade and or economics.
 

gostomper

Registered
There is a good Planet Money episode on this. There are some legitimate grievances from the United States regarding China's heavily subsidized postal system. Anyway I suspect a good place to start would be calling the US embassy if you are worried about voting via mail.

 

ghost

Registered
At the time of the Presidential vote. The Embassy posts a guard outside the Embassy. He/she will accept your absentee ballot and it will be in a diplomatic pouch the next day. For other elections simply drop off the ballot at the Embassy.
 
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