Trade Rep. Schwab Says Tech And Trade Are Inextricable at CES

Blackberries and Butter!

Ambassador Susan C. Schwab, US Trade Representative (USTR) and principal trade negotiator said one possible way out of recession is to focus on tech and international trade.

During a panel at CES on International Trade, Schwab was most concerned about global protectionism in the down economies of the world. "I am anxious but not pessimistic," she said. "The G-20 nations all came together to say protectionism is a threat to our global economy. The media and the world will now be watching."

She advised electronics makers not to take free trade for granted. "Protectionism is a real threat. Don't stifle international trade" during the U.S. economic bust, she warned.

"The Development of either new technology or new trade agreements really requires a leap of faith," said Schwab. "Tech people have to make an investment on the front end. And you just don't know when it is going to pay-off. The same is true with opening international markets."

She added that the electronics community and tech sector needs to be just as vocal as others who are protectionist. Trade agreements must benefit everyone. Those left out are always a small but very vocal group. Her solution is that when imports affect a country in a more negative way, the private sector can address imbalance, not trade agreements.

The Honorable Gaspar Tarte, Trade Minister of Panama said every country has its own way of dealing with the economy. "Some (citing Mexico) are tied to the U.S., and others are not!" (sounds protectionist). Tarte went on to describe a new Panamanian communications program, the triple play: voice, video and data all combined. WooHoo.

Trade Commissioner Konrad Von Finkelstein, Canada's trade rep., said we may need new regulations to meet the new reality of convergence. "Basically, new media is now free of regulation," said the ambassador. "How does new media touch-on our regulatory environment?" (sounds scary).

"This is the challenge of our day," said Von Finkelsteain. "We all have the same vision of maximizing the global network to benefit all of our citizens," he said to the CES crowd.

Ambassador Schwab had the last word. The former Motorola Exec, University of Maryland Dean of the School of Public Policy and key Hill staffer and Legislative Director to Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) notes: "I am a trade negotiator so I have to be optimistic."

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