The U.S. Chamber of Commerce vowed April 14 to fight any attempts to restrict the exporting of jobs overseas, warning the country will pay a "tremendous heavy price" if proposed laws to curb outsourcing are adopted. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing 3 million firms, said it took exception to assertions made by politicians in the run up to the Nov. 2 presidential election that U.S. companies were "selling out" America's future by moving jobs abroad. "The chamber's message is clear: The U.S. must be able to source around the world to stay competitive in the global economy and the business community will fight any attempts by our government to restrict outsourcing," said Thomas Donohue, the chamber's president. Outsourcing, particularly moving high-tech jobs to low-wage Asian and Latin American countries, has become a key subject of debate between Republican President George W. Bush and his presumptive Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry. Donohue expressed concern that about 80 proposed state and federal bills designed to stop outsourcing were being prepared, warning America would "pay a tremendous economic price" if such legislation is passed. He said a study on outsourcing conducted by the chamber revealed that it was not the major threat to American workers that it was made out to be. "While there are various estimates on the number of jobs moved overseas, it remains, by all accounts, a small percentage of our economy," he said. Among the study's key conclusions was that foreigners actually sent more white-collar office work to the United States than America shipped to them. Additionally, the chamber's study showed recent job losses and the slow pace of hiring stemmed from increases in productivity, the recent economic downturn, domestic business impediments and continued economic uncertainty, Donohue said. Despite a U.S. unemployment rate of 5.7%, the study showed unemployment among Americans with a four-year college degree was just 2.9% and that "more Americans are working today than at any time in history," he added. The survey also showed that by 2010, the number of jobs in the United States would exceed the number of available workers by an estimated 10 million. To create jobs, it is critical that the U.S. remain open to the worldwide economy, where 95% of potential customers live, Donohue said. He also cited studies showing that outsourcing by other countries directly provided 6.4 million jobs in the United States and "many million more indirectly." "Isolationist measures designed to restrict trade and punish companies for sourcing must be defeated," Donohue said. Instead, he said, America should open markets and enforce trade agreements, improve the skills of its workforce and expand the labor pool, modernize transportation, energy, and technology infrastructure and reduce legal, regulatory, tax and health-care costs. He said global outsourcing also created export markets for American firms as foreign service providers often needed U.S. computers and telecommunication equipment to do the work sourced to them.