TRADE: The Cost of Quotas

When Congress debates foreign-trade policy, protectionist lobbyists are always on hand to reel off doleful statistics of plants closed and jobs lost because of competition from imports. At last free traders are acquiring some figures to throw back. In a study to be published shortly by the American Importers Association, Economist C. Fred Bergsten, a former aide to Henry Kissinger, adds up the bill that the U.S. consumer is paying for protectionism. His estimate: tariffs, quotas and other devices raise American living costs by $10 billion to $15 billion a year.

The most direct cost comes from tariffs, but it...

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