U.S. Route to Global Competitiveness Starts at Home

Last week, former chairman of the appellate body of the World Trade Organization
Jim Bacchus spoke to DCFR. His presentation topic was about a competitive U.S. in a more competitive world. The discussion centered around the failure of U.S. politicians to lead and execute the governing and business of America. Though his remarks were orated perfectly from the podium, a written speech was provided to DCFR some days afterward. Below are some excerpts:

This economic paralysis gnaws at the “can-do” confidence that has always been characteristic of “we the people” in America. Paralysis is not what the rest of the world expects of America. But other countries are not waiting for us. They are moving forward without us to a much more competitive world.

He continues to write of the pessimism he observes that is un-American, and says it is unjustified. The U.S. is by far the most advanced, most resilient, and competitive of all economies of the world. “Above all, we Americans are paralyzed economically because we are paralyzed politically,” he writes. This paralysis is preventing us from making choices and implementing decisions that could right our course toward better jobs and rising living standards.

“A politics for grownups would see the world as it is now,” he suggests. “…Americans must work alongside others of like mind from other countries to shape the world in better ways—or we will be shaped by the world in ways we won’t like.” He also reminds us not to buy into unfounded fears of foreign trade. This we would not do if we grew up politically, i.e., voters were not mesmerized by political claims made on campaign trails and the flip side of politicians not making them.

He covered a potpourri of areas that comprise the agenda of America, including deficits, trade, innovation, infrastructure, and freedom, to name a few. By the end of the month, we will be posting another issues brief in our Global Themes series regarding the Doha trade rounds, green growth, and other related topics to capture Bacchus’ trade-savvy knowledge.

Here is the speech for further reading about Bacchus’ views on U.S. competitiveness.

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