By John Byczkowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The outsourcing of U.S. jobs "is part of trade ... and there can't be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger," Treasury Secretary John Snow said Monday in Cincinnati.
Snow said outsourcing "plays a modest role at best" in the current jobless expansion. Investment banker Goldman Sachs last year estimated "offshoring" accounted for 1 million of the 2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost since summer 2000.
United State Sec. of Treasury John Snow talks about the economy to Enquirer business writers and members of the Editorial Board.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
The secretary's visit came on the heels of last week's Ohio Poll from the University of Cincinnati, which showed President Bush and his Democratic challenger, John Kerry, running neck and neck among the state's voters.
While here, Snow met with Kroger employees, visited Fifth Third Bank's Madisonville operations center and dined with members of the Cincinnati Business Committee.
Talking about their business, Kroger managers summed up the current economic situation, Snow said. "The economy's stronger, sales are going up, competition's tough," he said. "I think that's a message that you probably find repeated in every boardroom around America."
Asked about the outsourcing of American jobs - an emerging hot button in the presidential election - Snow at first deflected the question. "What we really talk about is jobs, and the creation of jobs. We want the focus to be there," he said. "If we can keep the American economy strong and growing and expanding, we'll create lots of jobs."
Snow was asked whether outsourcing makes the economy stronger. "It's part of trade," he said. "It's one aspect of trade, and there can't be any doubt about the fact that trade makes the economy stronger.
"I was struck by the fact coming in this morning, the number of foreign companies that have operations right here, proudly displaying their logos. America can compete with anybody. What we need to do is not build walls but tear walls down. We don't have a lot of walls here. We need to tear walls down in other places, that stop our products, our services from being in the marketplace" in other countries.
Snow sang the praises of technology and the rapid growth in business productivity, saying companies "don't need to be as big to be efficient. You can outsource a lot of activities and get them done just as well at a lower cost."
That improvement has made business stronger, Snow said. "The facts are the economy's on a strong upward path," he said. "If you get the economy on a strong upward path, it creates lots of jobs. We're going to create lots of jobs."
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