Bad blood

FRAMINGHAM (11/18/2003) - Bulgaria. China. Egypt. India. The Philippines. Romania. At the September New York trade show called TECHXNY, floor space dedicated to offshore outsourcers represented a virtual United Nations of vendors seeking deals with American businesses.

Just one problem for the visitors: Not much deal-making was going on. In fact, vendors staffing their booths at the end of the show had plenty of time to talk about the growing U.S. backlash to offshore outsourcing.

Nico van Rooyen, director of market development for B&Ti Solutions, a specialist in services for financial and insurance industries in Johannesburg, South Africa, says he was subjected to jeers. "A couple of people were here, pointing at me and telling me about how we are taking jobs away -- they were quite militant," he says.

Van Rooyen's experience seemed to be an exception, though others say they are aware of the sentiments.

George Sharkov, chairman of Basscom, an association of Bulgarian software companies, made the trip from eastern Europe to market his country's software programming prowess. "We want to establish long-term relationships with American companies," he says. "But you cannot tell us it's our fault for taking jobs away. If the jobs don't come to us, they will go somewhere else -- businesspeople want to get high quality in the most cost-efficient way possible, and if they can see that can be done outside the United States, they will do it."

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