WASHINGTON — Industry groups pressing for export control reforms and federal support for U.S. technology innovation are stepping up their lobbying efforts on several fronts this week.
Responding to proposed export controls on technology shipped to China, an industry coalition on Tuesday (March 6) called on the Bush administration to strike a balance in the new export rules between U.S. national security and global competitivness.
The Coalition for Security and Competitivess, a group of eight industry associations representing the electronics, IT and aerospace industries along with manufacturers, called on the Bush administration to streamline any new export contols by hiring more personnel to process export licenses. The group cited statistics claiming that the State Department alone had a backlog of 10,000 export license applications in 2006 "that is still being whittled down."
Export licenses must be approved by the departments of State and Commerce, and the Pentagon plays a key role in setting U.S. rules on the export of "dual-use" technologies.
Industry groups fear that tighter restrictions on export licenses to China will add to the backlog.
"The international marketplace is changing rapidly with new competitors emerging in both developed and transitioning economies," John Engler, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement. Without specifically mentioning China, Engler added, "We need a modern export control system that recognizes this new environment and enables U.S. companies to compete and continue their technological leadership."
Among the coalition's recommendations are:
- Identifying and safeguarding sensitive technologies with potential military applications.
- Boosting U.S. competitivness through a more efficient export control regime.
- Promoting greater cooperation with U.S. allies on export controls.
Meanwhile, a group of electronics industry executives called on Congress to reform U.S. high-tech visa policies to retain foreign workers, boost Internet security, make the R&D tax credit permanent and increase funding for science education.
At least one House panel has already approved legislation to improve U.S. technology innovation.
In a letter to congressional leaders, the chief technology officers of companies like Apple, IBM and Microsoft said: "Adopting policy initiatives that foster an environment where innovators can thrive is critical to the industry's continued success."