Planet Money
4:25 am
Thu November 29, 2012

Frozen Pizza, Fatty Alcohol And Wire Hangers

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 1:25 pm

What do self-rising pizza, photographic paper and chain-saw chains have in common? They're all products the U.S has been accused of dumping onto foreign markets.

In other words, some foreign country said U.S. companies were exporting these products at prices lower than they sold for at home — a practice that's covered under international trade rules that the U.S. more than 100 other countries have agreed to.

Local businesses that think foreign competitors are exporting goods at unfairly low prices can file a complaint with their home government. The government then decides whether to implement anti-dumping measures, which typically include tariffs.

Dumping complaints are a window into the awesomely random world of modern, global trade. Who would have guessed that the EU had accused India, Malaysia, and Indonesia of dumping "certain fatty alcohols" (which, it turns out, are used in detergents and cosmetics, not in making bacon-tinis).

Still, given the hundreds of thousands of goods traded around the world, it's remarkable how rarely countries accuse each other of dumping. China, for example, was accused of dumping 50 types of products last year — a tiny, tiny fraction of the countless products it exports.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.