There is an important investigative article in today’s Wall Street Journal involving a Chinese billionaire aluminum mogul, Liu Zhongtian who allegedly evaded US tariffs by routing billions in aluminum by routing it through a plant in a remote section of Mexico. The article is troubling on many fronts, not only because of the fact that he is a member of China’s ruling Communist party and not just because of the potential misuse of NAFTA but also because no one seems to know how much of this is going on generally.
The article references that nearly on metric tons of aluminum sat in the yard of the Mexico factory, which at the time, (two years ago) was worth $2 billion and nearly 6% of the world’s total inventory of aluminum. While the factory has now been shut down after disclosure, the issue raised by its existence remains. How many Chinese business own subsidiaries in Mexico and of those which transport goods to the US? Who is tracking this and how?
When we consider the security of our nation from attack from foreign adversaries, we generally consider nuclear weapons from North Korea or Russia or submarine incursions or even wepons smuggled in through our borders would could be dirty bombs that could destroy cities for decades.
However, the economic assaults may be slipping the cracks. Congress looks at this at times and the Department of Homeland Security as well but there is no consolidated focus with a worldwide framework that could trace the movement of commodities and goods from their source. In addition, nations like Mexico that are benefitting greatly from the provisions of NAFTA should be held accountable for such incursions. Also, where we locate nations including China that allow its conglomerates to subvert our trade laws, severe sanctions must ensue.
The Wall Street Journal should be commended for its super investigative work spanning three continents and the American public should support this kind of work. But the American public must demand more from its intelligence community and the FBI to track and stop this kind of crime which can do so much damage to our economy.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers