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78 percent of U.S. imports from developing countries are duty-free.

THE NUMBERS: U.S. merchandise imports from developing countries, 2014* – TOTAL $1,130 billion Permanently Duty-Free $550 billion Duty-Free Via FTAs & Preferences $245 billion Tariffed $335 billion * Estimate based on the 11 months of data now available. WHAT THEY MEAN: Anticipating Congressional debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Sen. Bernie Sanders (an independent Socialist from […]

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Global Economy

U.S. tariffs are 150 times higher on Cambodian goods than on Venezuelan goods.

Clothes and shoes are heavily taxed; accounting for 5 percent of imports, they usually bring in half of all tariff money. Therefore, in the absence of FTAs or developing-country tariff waivers, countries like Cambodia that make lots of them face high rates. High-tech products like phones and medicines, as well as natural resources like the chalk and oil, are rarely taxed at all. So countries that assemble lots of phones, produce lots of medicine, or (like Venezuela) pump lots of oil don’t see many tariffs.

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Global Economy

Ladies’ tariff surcharge on underwear: ~50 cents.

Americans imported 600 million articles of men’s underwear in 2013. The $76 million tariff total implies an average border tax of 12 cents on each. The $566 million in tariff money from women’s underwear came from 2050 million articles of lingerie, so on average each got a 27.5 cent tax. Markups typically triple the price of a product from port to cash register, so the tariff system adds about 35 cents to the cost of each pair of men’s underwear, and a bit more than 80 cents to women’s. Thus the 50-cent ladies’ surcharge.

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Tariff system cost to families for back-to-school: ~$1.5 billion.

The National Retail Federation’s back-to-school survey for 2013 predicted that this fall, American parents would spend about $27 billion on school uniforms, hoodies, backpacks, pens, rulers, protractors, PCs, filler and graph paper, three-ring binders, and the rest of the K-12 regulars. This came to about $635 per child. Without the tariff system, this would have been about $595, with most of the extra $40 a consequence of the very high taxation of clothes and shoes.

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U.S. tariffs on anvils: 6% in 1947, duty-free in 2013.

Here are four sets of tariff rates applied to products under the consumer-products giant Acme Corporation brand, used in support of four representative Wile E. Coyote schemes, comparing rates in force in 1947 – that is, just as the “Coyote & Roadrunner” series launched, and also just as President Truman’s first post-war tariff agreement (the original GATT agreement) neared its conclusion – with those of today. In general, the figures show that tariffs (1) fell sharply over the 1947-1997 liberalization period; (2) fell especially steeply for heavy manufactured goods like the Self-Guided Aerial Bomb, the large rotary fan, and the industrial magnet; (3) and remain in place, if at lower levels, for farm products like the casein glue and the birdseed. The trends in these specialized products reflect larger structural realities reasonably well.

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Half of all fireworks imports arrive in May and June.

THE NUMBERS: Display fireworks* imports, 2012 – Full-year:   7,614 tons May:            1,451 tons June:            1,774 tons * Display fireworks used by professionals at 4th of July events and other major shows. Imports of “home” fireworks such as sparklers, bottle-rockets, and Roman candles totaled 83,000 tons. WHAT THEY MEAN: Washington’s most intimidating domain-name – […]

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