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Group devises an agenda to boost competitiveness

The United States must regain its footing in global trade - and specific policies could help, according to a group of business, labor, and academic leaders. The Council on Competitiveness, in a report released last week, says the US should support:

New measures to encourage savings, investment, innovation, and productivity in the private sector.

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Better coordination of economic policies among major industrialized and debtor nations.

Ways of easing the burden on individuals who fall victim to economic change and foreign competition.

More effective trade tools to safeguard US interests at home and abroad.

Policies that create a more versatile, motivated US work force.

While backing the ``open, competitive trading system,'' council chairman John A. Young of Hewlett-Packard stressed the need for ``enforcement of US rights in the international economy, the assumption by other developed countries of responsibilities commensurate with their economic power, and our ability to make some tough choices at home, particularly in reducing the federal budget deficit.''

The council cites three main causes of the drop in US competitiveness: (1) sluggish productivity, slow commercialization of new technologies, inadequate human resource development; (2) economic policies that strengthened the dollar between 1981 and '85; (3) trade and economic policies of foreign competitors.

Among others, the council includes the heads of IBM, TRW, Ford, the United Steel Workers of America, the Communications Workers of America, and the AFL-CIO's Industrial Union Department.

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