conclusion of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), policies to reduce barriers to trade and expand the total volume of trade are among the principal tools available to enhance the long-term U.S. economic growth rate.
A senior U.S. government trade official noted the desire of Congress and the public for empirical evidence that trade liberalization agreements enhance long-term growth prospects and prosperity, and reported some empirical findings, which are outlined below:
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) examined the wage levels of U.S. export workers in 1990, building on work done by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC), which had calculated that 7.2 million jobs are supported by U.S. merchandise exports. Matching the DoC data with average wages per industry, USTR found that U.S. workers in export-related sectors earn 17 percent more than the U.S. national average wage.
The USTR also reviewed economic research on the wage levels of workers in import-competing sectors. One study found that U.S. workers in import-competing sectors earned 16 percent less than the U.S. national average wage. The general conclusion reached by many studies is that policies lowering barriers and expanding market-driven trade will gradually shift the growth of job opportunities from lower-paying jobs toward higher-paying jobs.
In connection with the Uruguay Round, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis explored both dynamic (growth) effects and static efficiency effects from a one-third cut in global barriers to trade, a primary goal of the Uruguay Round negotiations. It was found that for the United States at the end of 10 years there would be a growth enhancement of about 3 percentage points of Gross Domestic Product. The U.S. trade official noted that few policy levers can add an annual three-tenths of a percentage point to the country's long-term growth rate.
Developing nations around the world are moving toward more market-oriented policies, both internally and in their trade policies. In doing so, they have the potential for real economic growth rates far exceeding anything achievable in the United States, the European Union (EU), or Japan. Most of these countries have very broad needs—from telecommunications systems to road-building equipment to hospital equipment. This presents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. exporters.
Standardization is one of many areas that must be addressed to enhance the U.S. ability to take advantage of these opportunities. Standards can facilitate U.S. exports. Standards, however, may also pose barriers to trade. The United States needs to decide how to deal with standards issues more fully with developed country trading partners. The United States also has an interest in ensuring that as developing countries are more integrated into the global trading system, they adopt open standards models in which government's ability to interfere and