Protectionism and BRIC countries
The government has taken small steps to help local firms. In August it cut payroll taxes for a few labour-intensive industries. But mostly it has tried to keep out foreign goods and capital. Mr Mantega says Brazil is “under siege” from imports. Last month the government tweaked procurement rules to favour local products (Chinese-made army uniforms were an irritant).
In the past year Mr Mantega has raised taxes on foreign capital. He wants the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to let countries levy tariffs on imports from places that artificially weaken their currencies.
Indonesia’s moves to restrict some imports and exports do not represent a shift toward protectionism, said the country’s new minister of trade, Gita Wirjawan.
Appointed in October and still moving into his office, Mr. Wirjawan has already sparked concern in business and diplomatic circles by limiting rattan exports—meant to help the struggling local furniture industry—and unveiling plans for tighter safety and labeling requirements on imports.
Low tariffs and a booming economy have attracted a sudden flood of imports, and Indonesia is just catching up with regulating them as other countries do, said the former chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board and head of J.P. Morgan’s Indonesian arm.
“My posture is not protectionist,” he told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “The fact is that there are thousands of products out there that are not in compliance with the rules and regulations in terms of environmental concerns, safely measures and labeling.”