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中英双语阅读8:Leader_The pitfalls of having to buy and hire American

2017-4-20 20:12| 发布者: admin| 查看: 93| 评论: 0

摘要: Leader_The pitfalls of having to buy and hire American:Apart from free trade, there can be few issues on which public opinion and the views of economists differ more than on forcing companies and the ...

Leader_The pitfalls of having to buy and hire American

2017-4-20 12:46| 发布者: 凡心| 查看: 18| 评论: 0

Source:http://www.cuyoo.com/portal.php?mod=view&aid=32810

 

Apart from free trade, there can be few issues on which public opinion and the views of economists differ more than on forcing companies and the public sector to buy locally and hire locally.  

The last time the US government embarked on a big fiscal stimulus with an investment component, Barack Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the decision to include so-called Buy American provisions to direct contracts to US companies was a hard-fought battle. Similarly, US work permits and particularly the H-1B visa for skilled workers have proved to be highly controversial among US workers in the tech sector, where their use is concentrated, and in Congress.    

Predictably, given its appeal to economic nationalists, Donald Trump has waded into this issue by launching a review of buying and hiring American, accompanied by fiery rhetoric about keeping jobs at home. In theory, an overhaul of both policies, particularly the short-term H-1B work visa, could yield some efficiency-enhancing improvements. In practice, given Mr Trump’s record to date, the outcome is likely to be more restrictive laws or little substantial change at all.    

Of the two issues, Buy American is the more clear-cut. Such procurement rules have been part of federal law since 1933, but can be applied in more or less restrictive ways. They are constrained by the US’s membership of the government procurement agreement in the World Trade Organization, which has 19 signatories including the EU, Japan and South Korea, though not China. Separately, Canada and Mexico have access via the North American Free Trade Agreement. Attempts to restrict procurement to domestic companies tend to backfire. They induce retaliation from trading partners, harming US businesses trying to sell abroad. They raise input costs, ensuring less infrastructure is built and fewer construction workers are hired for each dollar of public spending. And they increase paperwork and delays as companies struggle to cope with onerous reporting requirements.    

The H-1B issue is more complex. The visa programme was designed to bring in high-skilled workers, particularly in the tech sector, who would be complementary to US workers. They would also help with start-ups and other fast-growing companies that would in turn increase local hiring. Often it has meant consultancy companies substituting lower-skilled employees with temporary workers and then offshoring production.    

The high demand for H-1Bs, with the annual 65,000 quota often rapidly filled, has led to their distribution by lottery rather than on merit. Reform to address that issue would be politically astute — and, assuming that some kind of quota is required at all — more likely to increase US productivity.    

Handing out the visas on the basis of offered salary would be a simple market-based solution, but it would mean more workers going to established tech companies and fewer going to start-ups. More complex but potentially more productive would be to give visas to companies that allowed workers to apply for permanent residency, showing they were interested in more than churning short-term employees.    

What emerges from Mr Trump’s review remains to be seen. The unpredictability of his administration could throw up something disastrous, something productive or something ineffectual. But the principle should remain to keep the US economy as open as possible to the inflow of good products and good workers from abroad. Slamming down the drawbridge is only likely to impoverish the residents of the citadel.

   

FT社评:买美国货、雇美国人的弊端

除了自由贸易以外,几乎没有什么问题能比强迫企业和公共部门采购国货、雇用国人更能引起公众舆论及经济学家观点的分歧了。

上次美国政府实施包含投资的大规模财政刺激方案是在2009年,巴拉克?奥巴马(Barack Obama)出台了《美国复苏与再投资法案》(American Recovery and Reinvestment Act),当时要纳入所谓买美国货”(Buy American)的条款、以使合同落入美国企业之手就经过了一场硬仗。同样,美国工作许可制度、特别是面向高技能人才发放的H-1B签证,不管在美国科技行业从业者中间(拿这类签证的人大多从事科技行业)还是在美国国会中都极具争议。

可想而知,考虑到这个问题对经济民族主义者的吸引力,唐纳德?特朗普(Donald Trump)不会放着不管,他指示对有关买美国货、雇美国人的政策展开评估,同时发表了让就业留在境内的激烈言论。在理论上,对两项政策、特别是短期H-1B工作签证进行审查,可能会取得一些卓有成效的改进。而实际上,考虑到特朗普的过往记录,评估结果既可能是出台更具限制性的法规,也可能不会有什么实质性改变。

在这两个问题中,购买美国货的问题更为明朗。自1933年以来,此类采购规定一直是联邦法律的一部分,但是在执行上可以或宽或严。美国是世贸组织(WTO)《政府采购协议》的签约国,因此其购买国货规则要受到制约。该协议有19个成员,包括欧盟、日本和韩国,不过没有中国。另外,加拿大和墨西哥的产品可以凭借《北美自由贸易协定》(NAFTA)进入美国市场。

试图推行只能采购国内企业产品的做法往往会适得其反。这些做法会引起贸易伙伴的报复,伤害美国出口企业;提高投入成本,相同的公共支出所能建设的基础设施会更少、所能雇用的建筑工人也会更少;此外还会增加文书工作并耽误时间,因为企业需要努力应对繁琐的报告要求。

H-1B签证的问题就更为复杂了。该签证项目是为了引入高技能人才、特别是科技业人才,他们可以对美国劳动者起到补充作用。他们还可以帮助初创公司和其他快速增长的企业,反过来会促进本地就业。实际情况往往是咨询公司会用临时工代替低技能员工,然后把生产转到海外。

H-1B签证每年有6.5万个配额,往往很快就申请满了。火爆的需求导致此类签证是按抽签方式分配的,而不是按申请人的能力。通过改革解决该问题在政治上是精明之举——并且假设某种配额是必要的——也更有可能提高美国的生产力。

以薪资水平为依据发放签证,是基于市场的简单办法,但这意味着人才会更多地进入成熟的科技公司、而不是初创公司。更复杂、但可能更有效的办法是把签证分配给那些允许员工申请永久居留的企业,以表明它们感兴趣的不只是招收短期员工。

特朗普的评估会带来什么政策仍然有待观察。其政府的不可预见性意味着,这些政策可能是灾难性的,可能卓有成效,也可能徒劳无益。但应该坚持一个原则,那就是让美国经济尽可能地继续对外国好产品和好人才保持开放态度。放下吊桥只可能让城堡里的居民变得贫穷。

 

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