WASHINGTON, DC — Last week, President Bush announced that his Administration will send the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) implementing legislation to the Congress just after the congressional Easter Recess. There are commercially and politically meaningful reasons to pass this legislation, I’m almost breathless thinking about it (I’m also six months pregnant so maybe that has something to do with it, too):- Goods from Colombia already enter the United States duty-free, so implementation of this agreement will provide open market access for U.S. goods and services being exported to Colombia. High-tech equipment currently encounters a 10% import duty upon entry to Colombia, but as soon as the bilateral agreement goes into effect, Colombia will eliminate import duties on ICT products via adoption of the WTO Information Technology Agreement.- The Uribe government is pro-democracy and anti-crime, having reduced overall homicides by 40% between 2002-2007 and those among union members 87% in the same period. Some members of the U.S. Congress have used violence against unions as justification to oppose passage of the FTA. My question is: How will rejection of the FTA help further decrease union violence in Colombia? I would argue that walking away from further economic engagement with Colombia would actually deepen the economic and social woes of a nation struggling to reform and open up.- It’s also important for United States policymakers and lawmakers to continue their support for an open trade policy, especially as the economy slows. Exports from the U.S. are a bright spot in an otherwise bleak economic picture. Net exports added 1.4 percentage points to economic growth in the latter-half of 2007, more than making up for the 0.7 percentage point subtracted by the decline in residential construction. Lawmakers should embrace a policy mechanism that would help the U.S. economy grow further and help American companies compete internationally.Approval of the U.S.-Colombia FTA presents an opportunity for American lawmakers to enhance the competitiveness of American IT companies internationally, embrace an important ally against violence and extremism in the region, and promote U.S. economic growth.
The US health care industry has been one of the last to benefit from the increased efficiencies brought by the adoption of information technology tools. Despite abundant evidence that technology could help lower costs and improve health care outcomes, providers have been slow to adopt. For most US providers the biggest obstacle has been poor return on investment. A small physician practice could face costs of over $30,000, yet that practice may see very little of the financial benefits. Instead, patients and insurers -either private or government-run Medicare and Medicaid -- will benefit from fewer duplicative or unnecessary medical tests, reduced medical errors, and better care of chronic illnesses. Read More »
I’ve just returned from a fascinating visit to Bangalore, India. It’s hard to put into words what is happening there. Sacred cows (literally) still roam the streets of the city, while an explosion in domestic and foreign information technology companies have fueled exponential population growth at a level unequaled in the US or Europe. The streets are overfilled with buses and motorcycles taking commuters on their way to work in buildings and corporate campuses that rival anything in the west. But perhaps most fascinating is the level of energy and commitment to building an economic foundation that will last for generations -- people are not thinking about making their children better off, but their grandchildren, too. To accomplish that, they are turning Bangalore into a center of innovation in IT technology and business process. Thinking of India only as a place where outsourced call center jobs exist? If so, you seriously misunderstand and underestimate the economic transformation underway. Read More »
From Saturday, February 23rd to Monday, February 26th, the National Governors Association held its Annual Winter Meeting in Washington DC which focused on clean energy and what Governors can do to help make”green” in the U.S. a reality.Current NGA Chair, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced his initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future , at the 2007 Summer meeting in Traverse City. According to Gov. Pawlenty, “Governors and states are stepping forward to lead an energy revolution that will ‘Americanize’ our energy production in order to improve our national security, our economic well-being and our quality of life.”Although the topic is different, his comment made me think of last year’s winter meeting which focused on AZ Governor Napolitano’s platform of innovation and competitiveness and where Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, shared his views on how states can compete more effectively in the global economy by promoting innovation. Read More »
Yesterday a large percentage of us who work in the Province of Ontario celebrated a day off with the first ever statutory holiday in honour of families. The third Monday in February was recently designated as Family Day. So what does this have to do with high tech? Lots. A break from routine allows for a little more contemplation on life. At risk of sounding melodramatic, it’s truly amazing how technology has eased the ability to remain connected with family who are out of state or even country. It wasn’t long ago that academics and psychologists fretted over email and how it was going to kill interpersonal communications. Admittedly, I initially fell into that school of thought. But compared to sitting down, writing a letter, finding a stamp, and then posting a letter -- email is lot less painful. It’s that simplicity that leads to its pervasiveness and frequency. We’ve moved a long way since those early days of simple messages to the point where seniors in their 70s & 80s, who are still challenged by TV and cable remotes, can attach photos and forward documents. If my own tech challenged parents can do this, then it’s truly a pervasive technology!!!Now the next wave has become entrenched -- video. While email is a great way to stay in contact with family, it just doesn’t convey the nuance, humour, or sarcasm that real-time sight and sound convey. It’s that live video interaction that will increase the frequency and ease at which families communicate. Not many predicted pervasiveness of video in the mid 1990s, but I haven’t seen any recent articles from those who predicted the demise of human interaction via email. Maybe they’d be up for a Telepresence session to discuss?