Statements made in February by Gregory Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, ignited the already-brewing debate over offshore outsourcing. "The benefits from new forms of trade, such as in services, are no different from the benefits from traditional trade in goods," Mankiw said in his testimony before the Senate's Joint Economic Committee."Outsourcing of professional services is a prominent example of a new type of trade," he told the committee. "The gains from trade that take place over the Internet or telephone lines are no different than the gains from trade in physical goods transported by ship or plane."

Indeed, not only does offshore outsourcing help U.S. insurers reduce costs, convert fixed costs into variable costs, spread operational risk, and respond quickly to market opportunities, it may also enable them to establish "beachheads" in emerging markets that will foster their future growth, says Anupam Rajvanshi, a consultant with Andrus Consulting Services, a division of Dwight Andrus Insurance, Lafayette, La.

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