Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), pushed the trade group's position that free trade is vital to the U.S. economy and to maintain its competitiveness, during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club last month.
In a speech, entitled, "Technological Status Quo: The Oxymoron of Our Times," which called for open standards and free trade, Shapiro said, "Change defines our era. It is the campaign theme of the remaining leading presidential candidates. But while candidates can only promise to change the world, technology guarantees it," Shapiro said. "To the Detroit automakers, I say this — The technology industry is your opportunity."
Citing new CEA research demonstrating increased consumer demand for in-vehicle electronics, Shapiro encouraged the automotive industry to work with consumer electronics manufacturers to develop a uniform, open standard for electronics connectivity within the car. "Just as Google, eBay and Amazon created new jobs and new businesses, the next mobile wave will create new jobs and economic growth. The auto industry is squarely positioned to take advantage of this wave," he said.
Shapiro acknowledged the uphill battle facing Detroit in a slowing economy, but asserted that if Detroit reversed its approach and aggressively embraced open standards and free trade, the city could experience an economic rebound. "Free trade allows American businesses, especially small businesses, to compete and reach their customers on a level playing field," noted Shapiro. "It is largely growth in free trade that has helped the U.S. stay above water in a rough economic sea."
He went on to explain the U.S. economy is transitioning from manufacturing to service jobs and is creating better and higher paying jobs than ever before. PricewaterhouseCoopers recently conducted a study for CEA and found that in 2007 the consumer electronics sector directly and indirectly generated 15 million jobs.