U.S. schools must teach students “global trade literacy from elementary school on up,” Michael Eskew, chairman and CEO of United Parcel Service Inc., said in an address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington last week.

Saying that “a retreat toward economic isolationism would be disastrous for American business…” Mr. Eskew added that he fears economic isolationism has become “a hot political issue.”

“To reassure the American public and manage the changes afoot, business must step up to challenges in five specific areas,” he said, according to a UPS press release that cited excerpts from his address.

“The U.S. education system needs to reflect the demands of a global economy, which increasingly values technology, engineering, materials research and manufacturing sciences. At the same time, global trade literacy must be made a priority in U.S. schools, from elementary school on up.”

In addition, he cited the need for training and career development programs, government policies that promote growth and an understanding of the importance of “corporate diplomacy” in the face of anti-Americanism aboard.

He also said that small U.S. businesses benefit from exporting and their exports have increased more than 300 percent since 1995.

“These exporting small businesses are at least 20 percent more productive than their non-exporting counterparts; they’ve experienced 20 percent greater job growth and they pay wages and benefits that are at least 15 percent higher.”

“But we can recite trade facts until we’re blue in the face,” Mr. Eskew said, “facts like many, many more jobs have been lost to ‘countries’ called ‘productivity’ and ‘technology’ than to India and China.”

Mr. Eskew is the chairman of the U.S.-China Business Council and a member of the President’s Export Council and the Business Roundtable.

For a copy of the speech, call Norman Black at (404) 828-7593.