How free trade supports NC jobs

There’s a fierce debate in Washington about whether to extend free trade agreements to our trading partners in Europe and Asia. While that debate can often seem distant, the fact is that free trade supports more than 4,500 jobs at Cisco’s Research Triangle Park facility. It’s a prime example of how the global economy helps support jobs and drive economic growth at home.

In North Carolina, one of the ways Cisco supports our customers is through Cisco’s largest technical assistance center, which provides round-the-clock tech support to our customers. This is in addition to the engineering work that takes place there to drive research and development into new IT products sold all over the world.

Here’s how the technical assistance center works: When customers run up against a hardware or software problem they cannot fix on their own, they pick up the phone and call for technical assistance. This is a service available to our customers 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Our technical experts log in remotely to Cisco devices in customer networks, run cutting-edge diagnostic tools and send data back and forth with customers – from less than a mile away to halfway around the world.

More often than not, these technical experts help the customers resolve their problem in minutes. But sometimes, due to the time of day or the nature of the challenge or the language needs of the customer, they will collaborate with Cisco professionals in one of our other 25 technical assistance centers.

Working together, these experts find lasting solutions to customer challenges.

Yet this type of collaborative ecosystem of jobs would not be possible without trade and the ability to send data freely over the Internet across geographic borders. Put another way, our engineers in North Carolina couldn’t help customers in Europe, Asia and throughout the Americas unless data can move freely around the world.

Beyond the technical rationale, there are huge numbers of jobs in North Carolina supported by free trade – 1.2 million in the state, and 39.8 million jobs across the nation, according to The Business Roundtable.

With this in mind, Cisco believes that agreements with trading partners in Europe an Asia will continue to drive innovation, job creation and economic growth.

That’s why we’re urging the North Carolina congressional delegation to support

trade promotion authority legislation that is moving through Congress. This legislation will help ensure that our nation secures the best possible trade deals and that they are ratified by Congress quickly.

Combined with existing free trade agreements, these new partnerships would allow American businesses to sell more products and services to 1.5 billion consumers around the world.

Over the past three decades, the United States has created the most innovative and amazing products anywhere. As the Internet of Everything develops, creating a new wave of innovation, this leadership will continue. We will see new devices, products, technologies and services develop that we can scarcely imagine today – changing the clothes we wear, how we heat and cool our homes and the safety of our cars and trucks.

For the American economy, this will create new industries, new jobs and new ecosystems – just like the one that has developed around Cisco’s technical assistance center in RTP.

But for this new wave of innovation to fully develop around the world, we need our leaders in Washington – Republicans and Democrats, the White House and Congress – to support free trade agreements. Such agreements will help ensure American leadership around the world, as well as support good jobs here in North Carolina.

Gary Moore is president and chief operating officer of Cisco.