WASHINGTON – Today, global tech trade association ITI underscored the importance of fostering U.S. technological leadership in order to advance U.S. national security objectives. In comments submitted in response to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for the Identification and Review of Controls for Certain Foundational Technologies, ITI urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to ensure any new controls on foundational technologies are narrowly tailored, do not result in overlapping or redundant controls, and reflect robust dialogue with stakeholders to maintain U.S. companies’ global competitiveness and the ability to lead in the development of core technologies.
“U.S. national security depends on continued U.S. technological leadership,” ITI wrote. “This leadership drives U.S. innovation, job creation, and economic growth. Remaining at the cutting edge of developing and commercializing technologies will ensure they are available to the private sector and the defense industrial base.”
By definition, foundational technologies are already mature and widely available. ITI cautioned that imposing additional controls on foundational technologies could hinder the United States from attracting the world’s top talent, necessitate the costly reconfiguration of global supply chains and R&D networks, slow economic growth, and invite speculation about the reliability of U.S. partners and suppliers. All these outcomes hurt U.S. technological leadership, which paradoxically undermines U.S. national security.
ITI put forth several specific recommendations to guide the U.S. Department of Commerce as it considers how to approach export control rules:
- Efforts to strengthen export controls to address national security should be narrowly tailored and recognize the contributions of U.S. technological leadership to U.S. national security. Any efforts to strengthen [export] controls for reasons of U.S. national security must be narrowly tailored to specific and essential national security threats so as not to inadvertently harm U.S. companies’ global technology leadership or detract from the United States’ attractiveness as a top destination for international research and development spending, which are in and of themselves essential to realizing the short- and long-term national security objectives of the United States.
- BIS should avoid the introduction of broad and overly burdensome controls. Broad and overly burdensome controls restricting U.S. companies from full participation in the vibrant global exchange of technologies would undermine U.S. technological leadership.
- BIS should prioritize robust stakeholder engagement throughout the lifespan of any controls. This is critical, especially when evaluating potential impacts to the U.S. technology industry’s competitive edge, and, after the establishment of any controls, quickly amending or removing controls as technological developments or other circumstances merit.
- BIS should evaluate existing controls. In considering whether to apply additional controls, undertaking a thorough review of existing controls will support BIS’s efforts to determine whether such controls already sufficiently meet its desired objectives. It is our view…that it is likely that the national security concerns that underpin the ANPRM are already sufficiently addressed and that seeking to control additional items in these categories will only result in over-controlling.
- BIS should appreciate that the majority of foundational technologies have global availability, are taught at universities, are manufactured in different places around the world, or have matured to a publicly available or obtainable technology. To stay competitive in the development and implementation of these technologies, U.S. companies, think tanks, universities, and research organizations require access to the most talented scientists and engineers, regardless of location or nationality, and participation in the broader global innovation ecosystem.
ITI’s submission builds on comments it submitted to the emerging technologies ANPRM in January 2019, and re-emphasizes many of the important principles it laid out in those comments which BIS should also consider in the context of foundational technologies. Both rulemakings stem from the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), which directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to identify for potential control “emerging” and “foundational” technologies are that essential to the national security of the United States.