Business lobby assails anti-outsourcing bills

Chamber of Commerce to fight any attempt to limit exporting of jobs

April 15, 2004|By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON - The top business lobby in the United States vowed yesterday to fight any attempts to restrict the exporting of jobs overseas, warning that the country will pay a "tremendous heavy price" if proposals to curb outsourcing are adopted.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing 3 million businesses, said it takes exception to assertions by politicians that American companies are "selling out" the nation's future by moving jobs abroad.

"The chamber's message is clear: The U.S. must be able to source around the world to stay competitive in the global economy, and the business community will fight any attempts by our government to restrict outsourcing," Thomas J. Donohue, the chamber's president, said at a news conference.

Outsourcing, particularly moving high-tech jobs to low-wage Asian and Latin American countries, has become a key subject of debate between President Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.

Kerry has promised that if elected president, he would make the most sweeping reform of international tax law in four decades to stem the flow of U.S. jobs overseas.

His plan would eliminate tax breaks that encourage companies to move jobs overseas and use the savings to encourage companies to create jobs in the United States.

Donohue expressed concern yesterday that about 80 proposed state and federal bills designed to stop outsourcing are being prepared. He said the nation will "pay a tremendous economic price" if such legislation is enacted.

He said a study on outsourcing conducted by the chamber found that it is not the major threat to American workers that it has been made out to be.

"While there are various estimates on the number of jobs moved overseas, it remains, by all accounts, a small percentage of our economy," he said.

The study concluded that foreign companies send more white-collar office work to the United States than it ships to them.

In services particularly, "insourcing" exceeded "outsourcing" by nearly $60 billion dollars, he said.

The chamber's study blamed recent job losses and the slow pace of hiring on increases in productivity, the recent economic downturn, domestic business impediments and continued economic uncertainty, Donohue said.

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