International Pink Tariff
Yaxin CHen

Pink, a color that has been commonly used as a representation of femininity, has become a form of widespread gender discrimination towards female consumers in the economy. The pink tax is not an official tax expense established by the government, instead, it often refers to extra price paid by women for the same goods or services as men, mostly with female-targeted packaging. This implicit discrepancy has existed for decades in the U.S. even though there have been efforts from some legislators to employ legal instruments to reduce the apparent gender-based pricing disparity. The unfair issue requires high attention because it not only presents gender inequality in the domestic commerce, rather, it has further expanded to international trade as the pink tariff, which would potentially undermine the relationship and economy of different importing and exporting countries.
Many Asian countries, taking China and Vietnam as examples, are powerful in manufacturing on account of their cheaper labor markets, therefore, international companies are more prone to set their manufacturing factories in these countries in order to save costs, and later export finished products to international markets like the United States. However, although producers may choose to export similar products between males and females at the same price, women and men often see different prices as they arrive in the domestic market. The gender-based pricing almost always requires women to pay a higher price compared to men because of the higher import tariff rate on goods that are particularly for females. The recent trade war between the U.S. and China has added an even higher tariff rate on already existing pink tariffs without the adjustment to inflation, meaning that female consumers generally have to incur more tax burden for purchasing goods to their liking, such as shoes and clothes. Consequently, after acknowledging the gender price gap, domestic female consumers would be likely to restrict their buying power for more expensive female-targeted products. This does not only impact the domestic economy negatively, but also affects the further expansion of the global economy, especially in developing countries that make a myriad of exports as they lose broader opportunities to trade.
Legal intervention is a possible effective means to solve the price discrimination against the overall female group. There have been past efforts from companies in the fashion industry attempting to fight against the pink tariff legally. Nevertheless, the courts encountered difficulties to provide satisfactory rulings, given the current insufficient legislations and precedents. Some legislators in the U.S. have introduced the Pink Tax Repeal Act multiple times in the Congress a few years ago, but it has not been successfully passed by the legislative branch. Therefore, federal laws banning all pink taxes on goods for females and international legal regulations on all pink tariffs in international trade would be helpful in promoting gender equality and a better economy. To achieve this goal, it is essential to educate more women about the existence of pink tariffs and urge for legal interventions. The benefits of removing pink tariffs do not merely fall onto female consumers. They would resolve the dilemma faced by industries importing and exporting gender-specific products; they would likewise protect healthy trade and maintain good relationships between countries through international trade.