Solar Panel Maker Seeks Duties v. China (Trade Problem VAT Would Fix)

What a shame!  At one time it looked like the manufacture of solar panels would be an arena in which the U.S. could work towards energy independence, grow manufacturing jobs and compete successfully.  However, China, following a trade model of government subsidies and dumping has managed to put most American solar panel manufacturers out of business.  Those manufacturers that remain in the U.S for the most part import Chinese solar modules and only assemble the finished panels here.  One of the holdouts, SolarWorld Industries America, the German subsidiary, has petitioned the Commerce Department to impose new duties on solar modules that with loopholes currently escape duties.  (See NYTimes, 01/01/2014.)

Think about this:  China imposes a 17% VAT on imports, and, by virtue of the Value Added Tax mechanism, also subtracts the 17% tax burden from exports.  This creates a very large price wedge in itself against solar panels manufactured in the U.S. for domestic consumption.  Were the U.S. to similarly employ a VAT (in sweeping tax reform as a revenue-neutral replacement for the Corporate Income Tax and other taxes), domestic manufacturers like SolarWorld would be far less disadvantaged vs. Chinese and other foreign imports.  SolarWorld’s need for duties might even be entirely mitigated.

Hollings, Sen. Fritz, “Making Romney Electable,” HuffingtonPost.com, 04/25/12

“The voters are frustrated. The country is fighting in all the wars but globalization. Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a cheaper country to produce. Every country develops an industrial policy to protect its economy. Our industrial policy is to call for “free trade” and have Corporate America develop China’s closed market. The United States needs to develop an industrial policy to make Corporate America want to invest and create jobs in our country.

Fundamental to an industrial policy is a Value Added Tax, which is rebatable on export. The corporate tax is not. A U.S. manufacturer exporting to China is taxed twice: the 35 percent corporate tax and a 17 percent VAT when the product reaches China. But U.S. manufacturers in China import their product into the U.S. tax-free. We are not only building China’s economy, but Germany’s. The BMW plant in South Carolina doesn’t make the engine or technological parts in South Carolina. They are produced in Germany, shipped at 3 percent cost; assembled at 3 percent cost and BMW produces a motor vehicle in South Carolina 13 percent cheaper than Detroit. Using its 19 percent VAT, Germany probably has as many manufacturing jobs in the U.S. as it does in Germany — which we welcome.

The people are tired of the campaign. All they have heard for a year is that both candidates are for jobs, but the plants keep closing in their states. They have caught on to ten year plans to balance the budget; to do filibusters to fundraise; taxing the rich to balance the budget; appeals to their pride and charades to create jobs. Candidates and media worry about Medicare that goes broke in 2024 and Social Security that goes broke in 2033 but not the country that’s already broke. The people are frustrated because the country is fighting all the wars but globalization. They are looking for the candidate to do something real to create jobs and pay for government. Replacing the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 6 percent VAT does something real. The VAT has no loopholes; gives instant tax reform; produces billions to eliminate deficits and creates millions of jobs.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-ernest-frederick-hollings/making-romney-electable_b_1453065.html?utm_source=Alert-blogger&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications

Hollings, Sen. Fritz, “Untying the Knot,” HuffingtonPost.com, 04/09/12

“There is an immediate solution to deficit spending and creating jobs — just replace the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 6 percent VAT. The 2011 Corporate Tax produced revenues of $181.1 billion. A 2011 6 percent VAT would have produced $728 billion. This will cut taxes, eliminate loopholes, give instant tax reform, promote exports, free up $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to create jobs in the United States, provide billions to avoid deficits, and create millions of jobs.

Everyone in Congress is for these initiatives, but not one of the 535 members will introduce the VAT solution, nor will President Obama. Why not? Because Corporate America doesn’t want to increase the cost of their China exports to the United States. U.S. exports to China are taxed twice: the 35 percent corporate tax and a 17 percent VAT when exports reach China. China’s exports to the United States are tax free. 141 countries compete in globalization with a VAT that is rebated on exports. Wall Street, the big banks, and Corporate America are the biggest contributors to the President and Congress. Contributions for reelection in Washington come before the nation’s economy. Talk shows and the political pundits don’t mention the VAT solution because the press and media are owned or in bed with Corporate America.

In 2006, the Princeton economist, Alan Blinder, estimated that for the next decade off-shoring would cost the U.S. Economy an average of 3 to 4 million jobs per year. We are off-shoring jobs faster than we can create them. The recession ended over 2 ½ years ago and we wonder why the recovery is anemic. The economy would come alive by replacing the 35 percent corporate tax with a 6 percent VAT.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-ernest-frederick-hollings/untying-the-knot_b_1412370.html

Hollings, Sen. Fritz, “Building the Economy,” HuffingtonPost.com, 02/14/12

 “Just at the time we need government, all the candidates run “against big government.” “I served in government, but didn’t inhale.” “Get government out of the way so market forces can work.” Who do they think developed the economy? Not market forces. Not Corporate America, whose executives caterwaul “free trade;” “protectionism.” The government of China develops the most closed, controlled economy in history, and Corporate America off-shores to China.

The founding fathers taught us that government creates the economy. The U.S. was born in a trade war (the Boston Tea Party) and President George Washington’s first message to Congress emphasized “manufactories.” The government developed our economy with the Tariff Act of 1789. The Mother Country opposed this development, cautioning against protectionism, calling for “free trade,” and nagging David Ricardo’s “doctrine of comparative advantage” — England’s textiles versus Portugal’s wines. But Alexander Hamilton saved us with his famous “Report on Manufactures,” and Henry Clay exclaimed on the floor of the United States Senate in 1836 that free trade “never existed; it never will exist… ” Abraham Lincoln was a protectionist. Theodore Roosevelt wrote a friend: “Thank God I’m not a free trader.” We didn’t pass the income tax until 1913. We built this nation with protectionism into an economic superpower, “… twenty-five billion dollars more than her nearest rival, Great Britain… ” (Theodore Rex, Edmund Morris, p. 20). President Theodore Roosevelt kept market forces from working with anti-trust laws so that we have an open market today.

How do you think government builds a strong economy? Paying its bills, incentives and enforcing its trade laws to protect investment. Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a government cheaper to produce. In globalization the war has expanded from trade to research, technology, innovation, production, jobs, payrolls — the economy. Corporate America has $3 trillion ready to invest, waiting for the President and Congress to determine the increase in revenues bound to occur. Corporate America demands protection. Rather than bailing out Detroit, President Obama could have protected motor vehicles by imposing a tariff on auto imports like Brazil is now imposing. Rather than begging Russia for helicopters, President Obama should enforce the War Production Act of 1950 which would create millions of jobs. Everyone knows that you can’t build a strong economy with federal aid to keep the policemen, firemen and teachers in their jobs or cut payroll taxes which Wall Street executive, Steve Rattner, says: “… provides little lasting benefit. We could just as effectively throw borrowed hundred-dollar bills out of airplanes.”

How could President Obama and Congress bring Corporate America back from China? Easy. Just take the tax benefit to off-shore and give it to Corporate America to on-shore — cancel the 35 percent corporate tax and replace it with a 6 percent value added tax. Immediately, the CEOs, tax lawyers and tax lobbyists cry: “We can’t have a national sales tax.” 141 countries compete in globalization with a VAT or national sales tax. Replacing the corporate tax with a 6 percent VAT is on value added, not sales, and a tax cut. Reason for the howls: a VAT has no loopholes. The CEOs and Corporate America with today’s loopholes are not paying any tax. They could care less about building our economy. China is getting difficult every day. This tax cut releases $3 trillion for Corporate America to create millions of jobs in the United States. The 2010 corporate tax produced $194.1 billion in revenues. A 2010 6 percent VAT would have produced $700 billion in revenues. Exemptions for the poor leave billions to pay down the debt. The VAT is on consumption — the more you consume, the more you pay. Now folks can pay their fair share of taxes. The VAT promotes exports and is self-enforcing. A good bit of the IRS is eliminated, reducing the size of government.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-ernest-frederick-hollings/building-the-economy_b_1277012.html

Hollings, Ernest F., “Why America Slept on Globalization,” The Post and Courier, 01/17/12

“Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a country cheaper to produce. And the war has expanded from trade to production, research, technology, techniques, jobs, payrolls — the economy. Every nation struggles in the economy war to maintain and build its economy — except the United States.

In the Jan. 7 debate in New Hampshire, Gov. Jon Huntsman exclaimed: “We don’t want to start a trade war.” Japan started the trade war after World War II by closing its market, subsidizing its manufacture, selling its exports at cost, making up the profit in its closed market — making Toyota No. 1 as General Motors went broke. In the same debate, Gov. Mitt Romney exclaimed: “We’ve got to stop China from stealing our jobs.”

China steals intellectual property — not jobs. President Obama and Congress do the “stealing” by continuing the tax benefit to offshore jobs.

Corporate America invests in China because there are no labor, safety or environmental concerns. If you make a profit, you pay no corporate tax unless profits are repatriated. Just reinvest for more profit. If not profitable, walk away with no legacy cost. Facing this kind of competition in globalization, the U.S. must develop an economy attractive to invest and protect the investment.

The president and Congress say they are developing an economy to create jobs in the United States. Tax cuts or federal aid for policemen, firemen and teachers is no way to build an economy. It takes private investment.

Ed Schultz, on MSNBC, continually exclaims: “You can’t increase the taxes on the job creators. Really? Where are the jobs?”

In China. To get Corporate America out of China and investing in the United States, we’ve got to lower the taxes “on the job creators.” All we have to do is to take the tax benefit to offshore jobs and give it to Corporate America to onshore jobs — replace the 35 percent corporate tax with a 6 percent value added tax. This tax cut reduces the cost of exports 29 percent, creating jobs. It releases $1.2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate and create millions of jobs. In 2010, the corporate tax produced revenues of $194.1 billion. A 2010, a 6 percent VAT would have produced $700 billion. The VAT is a tax on consumption, not income. The more you spend, the more you pay. The poor have to spend most of their income on food, health and housing, so exemptions for the poor leaves billions to pay down the debt.

The VAT is self-enforcing: you either pay it or pass it on. Much of the IRS can be eliminated, cutting the size of government. The VAT has no loopholes, so it eliminates the tax lobbyists. We must get in step with the 141 countries that use a VAT to compete in globalization or keep losing our economy. Germany uses its 19 percent VAT, which is rebated on exports, to produce green jobs in the U.S. 13 percent cheaper than any domestic production. It produces the parts at high cost in Germany to avoid any tax; ships the parts at 3 percent cost, and assembles the parts in Charleston, at 3 percent cost, producing windmills.

www.postandcourier.com/news/2012/jan/17/17hollings/?print

China’s 17% VAT Is Trade Advantage

Keith Bradsher reports in The New York Times (“China’s 10-Year Ascent to Trading Powerhouse,” 12/09/11), that China has seized upon the broad rules available under the open global trading system governed by the WTO to accelerate Chinese trade.  The agreement with China, which was hammered out under GATT rules ten years ago, permitted China to impose higher tariffs to protect a then developing economy.  These rules are still in place and permit China to retain a tariff wedge of 25% on imported cars.

That tariff is not the only wedge.  China also employs a 17% Value Added Tax, which under GATT rules is subtracted from exports and added to imports.  Bradsher:

 “But the 25 percent tariff is only one reason a Grand Cherokee costs three times as much in Chongqing as in Chicago. In the name of energy conservation, China also assesses a sales tax of up to 40 percent of the vehicle’s price based on its engine size. Small, fuel-sipping Chinese cars pay the lowest rate, as little as 1 percent, while gas-guzzlers from the United States and Europe pay the highest rate.

 China also collects a 17 percent value-added tax on almost everything sold in the country, whether imported or domestically produced. But like many European nations, China uses a W.T.O. provision that allows the tax to be fully refunded to China’s export producers, who often pass along the saving to foreign buyers.

 What’s more, China limits foreign manufacturers to no more than 50 percent ownership of car assembly plants in China. That special rule, which China managed to negotiate for its W.T.O. accession agreement when its auto industry seemed tiny and vulnerable, has forced multinationals to set up numerous joint ventures in China and to transfer a wide range of technology to those Chinese partners.”

 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/09/business/global/chinas-10-year-ascent-to-trading-powerhouse.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=business

Breaking the Spell on the Economy

Halloween has passed, but our economic witches’ brew remains in place.  In our major cities, an impatient and resentful citizenry has taken to the streets in anger to protest inequality in opportunity.  And, it is spreading.  In Oakland the demonstration turned violent.  People are trapped in a spell fueling our nation’s debt — between a stalled economy with negligible job creation and rising entitlement demands from retiring baby boomers.

Both political parties are shackled to their core principles, but neither has a real remedy.  Republicans are steadfast in believing that tax cuts will fuel growth that will overcome the increase in short-term debt that these cuts will produce; they would rather cut entitlements to pay for some of the cuts.  Democrats believe that if government spends more on infrastructure projects, the jobs created will relieve the malaise; they would rather increase taxes on the wealthy to cover the cost of investment spending.

Both visions are incomplete, as both lack an identifiable long-term solution.  Can the Republicans foresee an industry that would fuel private sector growth?   Can the Democrats see that infrastructure projects are only a short-term fix for an economy that is hemorrhaging through outsourcing?

At one time, it was said, “As Detroit goes, so goes the nation.”  We can no longer look to the auto sector for salvation growth, since much of the industry is comprised of imports and imported components.

The internet industry propelled the economy for a time, but that was a finite bubble.  The new generation of internet applications, e.g., Facebook, Google, are not as labor intensive as manufacturing and have a much lower ratio of employees to sales.   The computer industry no longer resembles its original promise for domestic jobs, as the finished products or components have largely been outsourced.  Apple Computer, for example, has created tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S., but more than a million jobs for Chinese assemblyline workers.

The construction industry filled the gap after the internet bubble deflated, but, as is inevitable in the course of our boom and bust cycles, the end came to the housing bubble.  What’s next?  Can we identify a nascent industry on which to place our bet?  And, if so, how can we best support that industry?

The obvious target is alternative energy, whether nuclear, solar, wind.   In addition to sparking growth and employment, we would save billions of dollars for imported oil, which money Thomas Friedman has repeatedly warned fuels the middle-eastern countries that hate us.  That is why placing a bet on Solyndra was a good idea.  Their product had unique competitive advantages, and it would have been produced here in California.

We can no longer accept that our future “Apples” will be grown in China.  In nurturing promising players in the alternative energy field, we must think ahead to their success, and how to assure that entrepreneurs will scale-up their inventions here and not turn to outsourcing. This means government must not only provide the tax incentives and investment funds (loan guarantees) for start-ups, but must also alter the rules of the game.

First, and foremost, the U.S. should sweep away its cumbersome and corrupting corporate tax code with all its loopholes in favor of a value added tax, so that the burden of government taxation is not shouldered by exports and is added to imports equally as to domestic production.  The U.S. would become the lowest taxed country (zero), making the U.S. a magnet for foreign capital and encouraging the return of multi-national corporation profits currently parked in lower-taxed countries.  Gone, too, would be the double-taxation of dividends.  In a nutshell, our Corporate Income Tax is a drag on our economy and all our trading partners now use VAT to our competitive disadvantage.

Second, the protection of a U.S. Patent should be restricted to products that are 80% value-added in manufacturing facilities here.  Too many products are outsourced in their entirety and too many are merely assembled here using imported high-value-added components.  Patents would still be licensed to foreign manufacturers for producing goods for their own populations, and foreign manufacturers would need to open plants here for U.S. Patents and to tap our market.

Third, where necessary, we should not hesitate to add tariffs to the mix to protect promising new industries, especially where we can identify dumping practices of foreign countries.

Turning our economic ship of state will take time.  Congress will deliberate on tax reform, patent law, industrial policy and tariffs.  In the short-term, the parties will fight over tax cuts vs. infrastructure spending.  But without visionary leadership with a longer horizon, we will not break the spell.

Hollings, Sen. Fritz, “Shameful Conduct,” HuffingtonPost.com, 10/05/11

“I don’t know what the demonstrators want Wall Street to do, open earlier; cut the price of stocks? Demonstrators mistake result for cause. Business doesn’t create the business climate or economy. Government does. Business takes advantage of the business climate that the U.S. government has developed. Capitalism has a tendency to monopolize.

That’s why government institutes anti-trust laws and restrictions to keep the market open. But an open market doesn’t mean a free market. In globalization, with China setting the competition, the market is definitely not free. Corporate America shouts “free trade” but creates jobs and develops the most closed market in China…”

“…The first order for government is to take the tax benefit for corporate America to off-shore jobs and give it to corporate America to on-shore jobs — cancel the corporate tax and replace it with a 6 percent value added tax. Last year’s corporate tax produced $194.1 billion, whereas a 6 percent VAT for 2010 produces $700 billion in revenues. Exemptions for the poor leaves billions to pay down the debt.

With no loopholes, a VAT produces instant tax reform, which puts the tax lobbyists out of business. The VAT replacement releases $1.2 trillion in off-shore profits for corporate America to create jobs in the United States. The VAT is like a sales tax, but not on the sales price — only on the value added or seller’s mark-up…”

“…Wall Street, the big banks, and corporate America are happy for Congress to do nothing. They oppose the enforcement of trade laws; oppose a VAT because it increases the cost of imports, and oppose the repeal of the subsidy to off-shore jobs. Wall Street, the big banks, and corporate America are the biggest contributors to the president and Congress. So the president refuses to enforce our trade laws. The president and Congress oppose the VAT solution even though they are for tax cuts; and they oppose repeal of the subsidy to off-shore profits.

Replacing the corporate tax with a 6 percent VAT would make it profitable for corporate America to produce and create jobs in the United States…”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sen-ernest-frederick-hollings/value-added-tax_b_996626.html

Energy Tax Policy & Tax Reform, statement of Steve Abramson, VATinfo, submitted to Joint Hearing of House Ways and Means Committee, 09/22/11

Dear Chairman Tiberi, Chairman Boustany and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with this submission for your hearing on Energy Tax Policy and Tax Reform.

Historically, with the notable exception of the internet bubble, to climb out of recession we have needed growth in one of two core industries, automobiles or housing. Today, automobiles are a smaller portion of our economy, with much of that industry comprised of imported cars and outsourced parts. The housing market is sitting on a huge inventory, and heightened foreclosures threaten further price decline.

There is no more promising industry to create economic growth and jobs than in renewable energy, particularly solar and nuclear, but that will require a robust industrial policy to support private investment. This is the role that government should play ⎯ to encourage the private sector creation of jobs, while reducing our dependence on imported oil. China now produces over half the world’s supply of solar panels and exports 96% of them to the U.S. and Germany. This is an industry in which we must successfully compete. Our industrial policy will have to include domestic content provisions that skirt WTO restrictions, just as China has managed to do in building its industries. Domestic content provisions will assure that we capture solar manufacturing jobs, here, for our middle class.

Overall, we must find the way to create and hold these domestic manufacturing jobs in the face of low Asian labor costs and subsidies. In the absence of such policies, CEO’s can be expected to outsource all the new ideas for production to Asia for the benefit of their shareholders and their own stock options. In January 2011, Evergreen Solar, the third largest domestic solar panel producer announced that it was closing its main U.S. factory, eliminating 800 jobs, and shifting its proprietary technology to China. In August 2011, Evergreen filed for bankruptcy, as did Solyndra and SpectraWatt. In May 2011, BP closed its U.S. solar manufacturing plant in Maryland and shifted its production to India, China and other low-cost countries. Then CEO, BP’s Tony Hayward said: “We remain absolutely committed to solar, (but BP was) moving to where we can manufacture cheaply.”

The Evergreen example, particularly, should be another wake-up call for the need of a protective renewable energy industrial policy. Even though Evergreen received $43 million in tax credits and grants from Massachusetts, Evergreen is not to blame for making the decision to sell their technology and outsourcing their labor. The business motive is rightfully the bottom line, and not to protect domestic jobs. Incentivizing job creation is the policy role of government.

About Solyndra.  The failure of this manufacturer has much to do with the hyper-competitiveness of the industry, including the plummeting cost of silicon (which Solyndra does not use) and lower costs in Chinese manufacturing (labor and overhead plus subsidies). Solyndra’s technology is unique (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DlCUmBw7AU), and their robotic manufacturing plant with one-of-a-kind systems represents hugely expensive start-up costs. However, the Solyndra solar panels have features and benefits not available with other systems, and are superior for commercial flat roofs and apartment buildings: lower installation costs, wind resistance, omni-directional placement affording more wattage per square meter, zero-visibility on flat roofs, no need for roof-penetrating fasteners. Hopefully, by virtue of the public investment in this technology (plant and equipment), Solyndra will emerge from bankruptcy in the hands of an American company, rather than see this promising breakthrough technology exported to China as was Evergreen’s.

A U.S. Patent Restriction?  Recently, it was revealed that the Defense Department is requiring domestic content for solar panels. This is a step in the right direction to build and retain a home-grown industry and jobs. Government policy could also make it more difficult for companies like Evergreen to transfer their technology abroad. For example, U.S. Patent protection could be restricted to products with a minimum 80% domestic value-added in manufacturing.

On January 9, 2011, The New York Times reported that China is disturbed that the Pentagon, a rapidly growing consumer of renewable energy products — in insisting on buying solar panels made here is interfering with world trade. This despite China’s pervasive export subsidies and local content requirements. China has subsidized their solar panel manufacturing industry, something the U.S. is loath to do. Our policy has been to subsidize consumers and let them choose in the “free market.” But, the price advantage to Chinese panels gives them an almost insurmountable advantage. The result: today, China produces well over half the worlds solar panels and exports 96% of them to Germany and the U.S.

The intent of the Buy American provision in the defense appropriations section of the 2009 stimulus legislation is that Chinese manufacturers, and others, will be encouraged to establish manufacturing production in the U.S. This restriction can and probably will be challenged under WTO free trade rules. However, the U.S. would be wise to look at additional barriers to protect nascent industries for future U.S. jobs. Innovators will make their initial products in the U.S., but if successful in finding a market, will look to scale-up in lower-waged countries with fewer workplace and environmental restrictions.

Replacing the Corporate Income Tax with a VAT.  Under GATT rules, the value added tax is subtracted from exports and added to imports with the purpose of excluding the burden of a producing country’s government from the price/value relationship of competing goods and services. Currently, all U.S. trading partners and over 120 countries use a VAT to the competitive disadvantage of the U.S. The U.S. should consider replacing the Corporate Income Tax and other taxes including the payroll tax with a VAT balanced by a flat personal income tax with a high threshold as recommended by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Federal FIT Match for States Paid-for with Gas Tax.  The uncertainty of the incentive price for clean energy production is a large impediment to domestic demand. In 2010, I had the opportunity to ask then energy czar Carol Browner about the potential for a national Feed-In Tariff (FIT), i.e. the incentive price at which green energy could is sold back to the grid. The FIT has propelled Germany into first place in the installed base of solar panels; this, even though Germany is at a latitude close to New York City’s, i.e., far from the maximum incidence of light. Ontario, too, which has recently implemented a VAT, is rapidly expanding solar installations. Ms. Browner responded that a FIT would not work here because the U.S. has diverse power companies regulated by individual states. However, that should not preclude the incentive of a federal matching FIT subsidy to the states. Electric utilities would be responsible for their average production cost per kilowatt hour and the FIT incentive overage would be shared by the states with a federal match. The FIT demand incentive expense should be paid-for by an increase in states’ gasoline taxes, adding an economic disincentive for imported fossil fuel.

Fully Deductible PACE Financing.  Demand would also be fueled by the state and local government adoption of fully deductible PACE bonds (Property Assessed Clean Energy Bonds) that would enable the deduction of principal as well as interest for residential installations of solar panels. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are known to oppose this incentive since the liens would come before their mortgage liens. Congress could and should legislate this hurdle away. Again, thank you for the opportunity to submit these ideas for your consideration.

Lindsey, Lawrence B., Testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, 02/02/11

“(O)ur income based system…encourages economic activity to go abroad.  An item that is manufactured in China but purchased in America has a cost structure that involves no U.S. income or payroll taxes on its labor content and virtually no U.S. corporate tax on the capital involved in the production.

Of course China does have an income tax, but it is quite low compared to ours.  The Chinese Individual Income tax produces revenue equal to just 1.2 percent of GDP compared to roughly 7 percent in the United States.  The largest component of the  Chinese tax system is the Value Added Tax, which generates roughly one third of all Chinese tax revenue.  But Value Added taxes are rebated on exports, so this tax does not apply.  Conversely, an item built in America and then sold to China involves labor costs that pay both income and payroll  taxes and capital costs  that involve the whole panoply of U.S. taxation. When they arrive in China the import cost is subject to Chinese Value Added Tax.  And this is not just the Chinese.

Throughout Europe Value Added Taxation has increasingly replaced direct taxation on personal and corporate incomes over the last couple decades and under World Trade Organization rules it is perfectly legal for them to rebate the tax on exports and impose it on imports.

We complain a lot about the advantages the Chinese give themselves through manipulation of their exchange rate.  At the same time we induce this massive self-inflicted wound on ourselves in the form of our income based tax system.  And whenever someone advocates raising rates within our current tax regime they are implicitly calling for these distortions to be larger and therefore for Chinese goods to become even more competitive here and our goods to become even less competitive overseas.”

http://budget.senate.gov/republican/hearingarchive/testimonies/2011/2011-02-02Lindsey.pdf