We especially need to inject some clarity — and facts — into the current debate over the outsourcing of services jobs. Over the next decade, the US is projected to create an average of more than 2 million new services jobs a year — compared to roughly 200,000 services jobs that will be outsourced.
I am well aware that this issue is the source of much anxiety in America today. Many Americans worry about the potential job losses that might arise from foreign competition in services sectors. But it‘s worth remembering that concerns about the impact of foreign competition are not new. Many of the reservations people are expressing today are echoes of what we heard in the 1970s and 1980s. But people at that time didn’t fully appreciate the power of American ingenuity. Remarkable advances in technology and productivity laid the foundation for unprecedented job creation in the 1990s and there is no reason to doubt that this country, which has shown time and again such remarkable potential for competing in the global economy, will not soon embark again on such a burst of job-creation. America's openness to service-sector trade — combined with the high skills of its workforce — will lead to more growth, stronger industries, and a shift towards higher value-added, higher-paying employment. Conversely, closing the door to service trade is a strategy for killing jobs, not saving them. Americans have never run from a challenge and have never been defeatist in the face of strong competition. Part of this challenge is to create the conditions for global growth and job creation here and around the world.
I believe Americans realize what is at stake. The process of opening to global trade can be disruptive, but they recognize that the US economy cannot grow and prosper any other way. They recognize the importance of finding global solutions to shared global problems.
Besides, what is the alternative to the WTO? Some argue that the world's only superpower need not be tied down by the constraints of the multilateral system. They claim that US sovereignty is compromised by international rules, and that multilateral institutions limit rather than expand US influence. Americans should be deeply sceptical about these claims. Almost none of the trade issues facing the US today are any easier to solve unilaterally, bilaterally or regionally. The reality is probably just the opposite. What sense does it make — for example — to negotiate e-commerce rules bilaterally? Who would be interested in disciplining agricultural subsidies in a regional agreement but not globally? How can bilateral deals — even dozens of them — come close to matching the economic impact of agreeing to global free trade among 146 countries? Bilateral and regional deals can sometimes be a complement to the multilateral system, but they can never be a substitute.