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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedUpinFarmersBranch's Avatar
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    May 2008

    U.S. ready to talk about temporary visas at WTO

    7/27/2008 5:44 PM July 27, 2008
    U.S. ready to talk about temporary visas at WTO


    GENEVA - The United States, responding to a key demand of developing countries, said on Saturday it would discuss giving more temporary access to foreign professionals, injecting renewed optimism into world trade talks.

    The U.S. offer -- its second this week in make-or-break talks to secure a breakthrough in long-running trade negotiations -- had ministers and businessmen talking optimistically about improved prospects for a deal.

    "When it comes to temporary entry of business professionals we signaled that we are ready to have that conversation in the context of the Doha round," U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab told reporters.

    "But obviously it has to be in conjunction with our consultations with Congress," she said after a session on services at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

    The issue of granting temporary business visas to skilled foreign workers is controversial as many politicians consider it an immigration issue that should not be included in trade pacts.

    But Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, who earlier in the week was blamed by many ministers for blocking the talks, welcomed the U.S. move and showed understanding for the needs of U.S. negotiators to coordinate with the U.S. Congress.

    Constructive signs

    "These are constructive signs," Nath told reporters. "There is good movement by the United States and by the EU."

    Services such as banking, shipping and telecoms account for upwards of 75 percent of rich economies and a majority and growing share of many developing country GDPs.

    But they still account for less than 20 percent of world trade. So rich nations with their sophisticated financial sectors and developing countries with their youthful educated populations believe the biggest gains from a trade deal could come in services.

    So Saturday's meeting in which around 30 WTO players made broad offers on opening up their service sectors will color the negotiations on the core issues of this week's talks -- farming and industrial goods.

    "The signals that were sent were magnificent," said Mexico's ambassador to the WTO, Fernando de Mateo y Venturini, who chairs the services talks.

    "I think in services things are moving fast. This is a very nice indication that things might move as well in the other sectors," he told reporters.

    Schwab said she would have liked to have seen more on the table on financial services, a U.S. priority, but said the meeting was a "good step."

    And the main U.S. services lobby, which had been complaining for years about the neglect of services in the WTO talks, said Saturday's meeting had injected a "whole new dynamic."

    "It's a milestone," Bob Vastine, president of the Coalition of Service Industries, told Reuters. "We've never seen as much progress in services."

    The upbeat outcome of the services talks followed a sudden turnaround on Friday in the WTO talks, when predictions of their imminent collapse evaporated after seven key players drafted a compromise on the main industry and farming issues dividing rich and poor countries and importers and exporters.

    Earlier on Saturday Europe's trade negotiators won backing from most EU countries to press on with the Doha negotiations, but France, Italy and some others expressed concern about how the talks were shaping up.

    The Doha negotiations for a global trade deal were launched in 2001 to boost the world economy and help fight poverty.

    "There are still potential potholes in the road ... But we are closer to a deal than we have been at any point in the last seven years," European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson told reporters on the sixth day of intensive talks.

    Without a breakthrough now, the talks risk being frozen for a further year or two while the United States and the European Commission change administrations and India holds elections.

    Tough negotiations on questions such as special treatment for developing country farmers and limits on the ability of poor countries to shield entire industrial sectors from opening lie ahead before a deal can be closed.

    And even if the core issues in agriculture and industry are resolved, festering disputes about cotton subsidies, the protection of place names linked with products, and bananas still threaten to derail the talks. ... yId=126542
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  2. #2
    Senior Member BetsyRoss's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
    This will be an absolute disaster for white collar Americans. When manufacturing jobs were lost, the workers were told to go to school and become white collar workers. So, you go to college, learn a skill, work for years (decades) at a place that keeps you crazy-busy, Then suddenly a foreign worker is brought in to shadow you and learn your job. Then the pink slip. These workers don't have the mortgage, student loans, and other debt that you do, plus everything costs so much less where they're from, so they can do your job for cheap. Some foreign placement companies have a bunch of them sharing one apartment. It's happening right now at Chrysler and Nielsen (the TV ratings folks). Here's one man's estimate of the damage that could be done. Remember that in the Great Depression it was estimated that around one in three men were out of work, and that wages for those kept employed were often cut. Of course, the process of giving our work to foreign workers is limited in that time time comes soon when there is no one here who has money to pay for the goods or services being offered by the foreign workers.

    Free Trade's Great, but Offshoring Rattles Me

    By Alan S. Blinder
    Sunday, May 6, 2007; B04

    I'm a free trader down to my toes. Always have been. Yet lately, I'm being treated as a heretic by many of my fellow economists. Why? Because I have stuck my neck out and predicted that the offshoring of service jobs from rich countries such as the United States to poor countries such as India may pose major problems for tens of millions of American workers over the coming decades. In fact, I think offshoring may be the biggest political issue in economics for a generation.

    When I say this, many of my fellow free-traders react with a mixture of disbelief, pity and hostility. Blinder, have you lost your mind? (Answer: I think not.) Have you forgotten about the basic economic gains from international trade? (Answer: No.) Are you advocating some form of protectionism? (Answer: No !) Aren't you giving aid and comfort to the enemies of free trade? (Answer: No, I'm trying to save free trade from itself.)

    The reason for my alleged apostasy is that the nature of international trade is changing before our eyes. We used to think, roughly, that an item was tradable only if it could be put in a box and shipped. That's no longer true. Nowadays, a growing list of services can be zapped across international borders electronically. It's electrons that move, not boxes. We're all familiar with call centers, but electronic service delivery has already extended to computer programming, a variety of engineering services, accounting, security analysis and a lot else. And much more is on the way.

    Why do I say much more? Because two powerful, historical forces are driving these changes, and both are virtually certain to grow stronger over time.

    The first is technology, especially information and communications technology, which has been improving at an astonishing pace in recent decades. As the technology advances, the quality of now-familiar modes of communication (such as telephones, videoconferencing and the Internet) will improve, and entirely new forms of communication may be invented. One clear implication of the upward march of technology is that a widening array of services will become deliverable electronically from afar. And it's not just low-skill services such as key punching, transcription and telemarketing. It's also high-skill services such as radiology, architecture and engineering -- maybe even college teaching.

    The second driver is the entry of about 1.5 billion "new" workers into the world economy. These folks aren't new to the world, of course. But they live in places such as China, India and the former Soviet bloc -- countries that used to stand outside the world economy. For those who say, "Sure, but most of them are low-skilled workers," I have two answers. First, even a small percentage of 1.5 billion people is a lot of folks. And second, India and China will certainly educate hundreds of millions more in the coming decades. So there will be a lot of willing and able people available to do the jobs that technology will move offshore.

    Looking at these two historic forces from the perspective of the world as a whole, one can only get a warm feeling. Improvements in technology will raise living standards, just as they have since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. And the availability of millions of new electronically deliverable service jobs in, say, India and China will help alleviate poverty on a mass scale. Offshoring will also reduce costs and boost productivity in the United States. So repeat after me: Globalization is good for the world. Which is where economists usually stop.

    And where my alleged apostasy starts.

    For these same forces don't look so benign from the viewpoint of an American computer programmer or accountant. They've done what they were told to do: They went to college and prepared for well-paid careers with bountiful employment opportunities. But now their bosses are eyeing legions of well-qualified, English-speaking programmers and accountants in India, for example, who will happily work for a fraction of what Americans earn. Such prospective competition puts a damper on wage increases. And if the jobs do move offshore, displaced American workers may lose not only their jobs but also their pensions and health insurance. These people can be forgiven if they have doubts about the virtues of globalization.

    We economists assure folks that things will be all right in the end. Both Americans and Indians will be better off. I think that's right. The basic principles of free trade that Adam Smith and David Ricardo taught us two centuries ago remain valid today: Just like people, nations benefit by specializing in the tasks they do best and trading with other nations for the rest. There's nothing new here theoretically.

    But I would argue that there's something new about the coming transition to service offshoring. Those two powerful forces mentioned earlier -- technological advancement and the rise of China and India -- suggest that this particular transition will be large, lengthy and painful.

    It's going to be lengthy because the technology for moving information across the world will continue to improve for decades, if not forever. So, for those who earn their living performing tasks that are (or will become) deliverable electronically, this is no fleeting problem.

    It's also going to be large. How large? In some recent research, I estimated that 30 million to 40 million U.S. jobs are potentially offshorable. These include scientists, mathematicians and editors on the high end and telephone operators, clerks and typists on the low end. Obviously, not all of these jobs are going to India, China or elsewhere. But many will.

    It's going to be painful because our country offers such a poor social safety net to cushion the blow for displaced workers. Our unemployment insurance program is stingy by first-world standards. American workers who lose their jobs often lose their health insurance and pension rights as well. And even though many displaced workers will have to change occupations -- a difficult task for anyone -- only a fortunate few will be offered opportunities for retraining. All this needs to change.

    What else is to be done? Trade protection won't work. You can't block electrons from crossing national borders. Because U.S. labor cannot compete on price, we must reemphasize the things that have kept us on top of the economic food chain for so long: technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, adaptability and the like. That means more science and engineering, more spending on R&D, keeping our capital markets big and vibrant, and not letting ourselves get locked into "sunset" industries.

    In addition, we need to rethink our education system so that it turns out more people who are trained for the jobs that will remain in the United States and fewer for the jobs that will migrate overseas. We cannot, of course, foresee exactly which jobs will go and which will stay. But one good bet is that many electronic service jobs will move offshore, whereas personal service jobs will not. Here are a few examples. Tax accounting is easily offshorable; onsite auditing is not. Computer programming is offshorable; computer repair is not. Architects could be endangered, but builders aren't. Were it not for stiff regulations, radiology would be offshorable; but pediatrics and geriatrics aren't. Lawyers who write contracts can do so at a distance and deliver them electronically; litigators who argue cases in court cannot.

    But even if we do everything I've suggested -- which we won't -- American workers will still face a troublesome transition as tens of millions of old jobs are replaced by new ones. There will also be great political strains on the open trading system as millions of white-collar workers who thought their jobs were immune to foreign competition suddenly find that the game has changed -- and not to their liking.

    That is why I am going public with my concerns now. If we economists stubbornly insist on chanting "Free trade is good for you" to people who know that it is not, we will quickly become irrelevant to the public debate. Compared with that, a little apostasy should be welcome.

    Alan S. Blinder is a professor of economics at Princeton University, vice chairman of Promontory Interfinancial Network and vice chairman of the G7 Group. ... 55_pf.html
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  3. #3
    Senior Member SOSADFORUS's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    and globalization is suppose to be good for Americans....they are going to tear this country to shreds, unless we get congress to stop this madness!
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