The United States is fast losing its ability to compete effectively in international markets, contends a blue-ribbon commission of business and academic leaders.
The commission, the Business-Higher Education Forum, released a report this week, "America's Competitive Challenge: The Need for a National Response," calling for a "national consensus" to promote capital investment and technological innovation in the marketplace.
"The resurgence in the economy may mask the real problems we have," says Robert Anderson, the chief executive officer of Rockwell International and chairman of the group. In remarks separate from the report, Anderson stressed that there are structural deficiencies in this country's approach to international economic competition which include a lack of appreciation of the problem. However, said Anderson, "We do not look to Washington for a master plan telling the nation what to do."
Anderson and other commission members are tentatively scheduled to meet with President Reagan and Cabinet members by the end of the month to discuss policy recommendations. Commission members included James E. Olson, vice chairman of AT&T, Derek C. Bok, president of Harvard University, Philip Caldwell, chairman of Ford Motor Co., and Richard M. Cyert, president of Carnegie-Mellon University.
The report presents an overview of the various problems believed to be affecting U.S. competitiveness and outlines a set of policy suggestions. The report also reviews past studies on the question of improving industrial effectiveness.
The report, which Anderson concedes, "does not consist of new ideas," follows several books and major magazine articles that recommend major changes in America's approach to international trade.
It calls for the appointment of a presidential adviser on economic competitiveness; the creation of a national commission on the topic; as well as a national repository for relevant economic and marketing analysis data.
The panel also recommended changes in the tax laws to encourage capital investment and research & development activities plus tighter industry and university ties to promote technological innovation.