President Donald J. Trump, June 13, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

President Donald J. Trump, June 13, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

Christmas shopping is underway, and you may have noticed few of the products sold in the U.S.A. are made in the U.S.A.

You can thank the State Department for that.

The U.S. government has pursued a policy, hatched in the State Department, to build up our allies’ economies by opening the U.S. market to their imports even as our allies closed their markets to us. The theory was that as they grew prosperous, they would be stable democratic allies in the fight against communism tyranny. That’s how we rebuilt Europe after the war, and Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

This one-way trade scheme succeeded in creating a middle class in countries around the world.  It worked so well, it became a magic elixir that policymakers would prescribe for all ills. It defeats enemies without firing a shot! It ends poverty and hunger! It teaches the world to sing in perfect harmony! And it increases corporate profits all at the same time. This was simply irresistible to the bipartisan globalist establishment.

They said NAFTA would inoculate Mexico against Latin communism, stop illegal immigration and end the drug trade. They promised an open door to China would make that country more prosperous, and as it grew more prosperous, it would grow more democratic. Soon, finding a communist in Beijing would be as tough as finding a chaste movie producer in Hollywood. We know how that’s worked out.

While the State Department played “Risk,” the American middle class paid the price as their jobs producing appliances, electronics, textiles, garments, furniture, toys and all manner of goods moved to other parts of the world.

South Korea was one of the chief beneficiaries of this non-reciprocal trading arrangement. With help from Washington, South Korea rose from the ashes of a hot war with North Korea and Red China to become an economic powerhouse.

South Korea’s government used crony capitalism at home to create an export-oriented economy and protect its domestic market from import competition. South Korea is now the world’s sixth largest exporter.

Washington helped enormously. The American taxpayer picked up the tab for defending South Korea from the North, so Seoul could dedicate its treasure and manpower to developing its industries. We gave Korea a market for its exports and refused to protest as Seoul used old, new and creative ways to subsidize its industries and hobble American imports and companies.

This month, the Korea Fair Trade Commission raided Apple Korea headquarters ahead of the iPhone X launch as part of an ongoing investigation into whether Apple struck “unfair” contracts with local phone networks. The agency is accused of “alarming behavior that threatens the viability of companies doing business in South Korea, including such major American corporations as Apple, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and Qualcomm.”

The Financial Times reports Price Waterhouse Cooper found “the country’s regulatory environment was ‘the most significant obstacle facing foreign companies,’ highlighting ‘the lack of clear and transparent regulations, the introduction of Korea-unique standards and aggressive compliance audits and investigations.'”

“Korea-unique standards” restrict the width of heavy vehicles to 3.9 inches less than U.S. standards. As a result, American companies can’t sell any buses unless they’re specifically designed for Korea.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has slammed Korea’s non-tariff trade barriers.

“Only 25,000 cars per Big Three manufacturer are allowed in based on U.S. standards. Anything above that needs to be on Korean standards,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. “So that kind of rule-making affects quite a few industries and really restricts the access that U.S. companies have to the Korean market.”

South Korea is a huge consumer of organic foods, yet health and safety rules keep American organic produce out of Korean supermarkets. The Wall Street Journal reports: “South Korea introduced a rule that requires imported products labeled as organic to be certified by Korean inspectors. In practice, that means costs of $20,000 to $30,000 for producers to bring Korean officials to the site of production for at least a week, as well as two to three months of paperwork with two government agencies.”

South Korea’s predatory trade practices don’t end at the border. As WND reported, South Korean conglomerates Samsung and LG have been making washing machines abroad and selling them in the U.S. below the cost of production.

Samsung and LG are taking working Americans to the cleaners. The jobs of Whirlpool’s 15,000 American employees, particularly the 4,000 at the company’s Clyde, Ohio, washing machine factory, are at stake.

This week, the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended slapping a tariff on Samsung and LG to keep them from flooding the American market with their illegally priced washers.

Imports of large residential washing machines above a 1.2 million-unit threshold would be hit with a 50 percent tariff, the commission says. A lower tariff could be imposed in coming years and on imports below the 1.2 million quota.

The International Trade Commission sends its recommendations to the president on Dec. 5. He has until February to make a final decision.

Working Americans should not play second fiddle to the State Department’s impresarios – and pay for the privilege with their livelihood.

President Trump has an opportunity to call a new tune, one that puts Americans first.

He should approve the tariffs the trade commission recommends.

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