Concerns about limiting US high-tech exports are not justified yet
Initial pressure from US regulators on advanced technology exports looks more subdued than expected.
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The Trump administration is finalizing a set of tight rules to restrict high-tech exports to countries like China. A document obtained by Reuters proves that this is a boon to the US industry, which feared much tougher measures against overseas sales..
U.S. Department of Commerce is finalizing five regulations covering products such as quantum computing and 3D printing technology, mandated by 2018 law to keep confidential technologies secret from competing nations..
Before drafting the rules, regulators last year asked the industry for comment on a range of high-tech sectors that the law could cover, from artificial intelligence to robotics. This has raised concerns among US businesses that the department will develop the broadest and most stringent rules that could restrict the supply of export goods to key customers..
But the internal status update reviewed by Reuters shows for the first time that the commerce department is finalizing the first set of rules that only deal with a few technologies..
«As their names suggest, the rules appear to be narrowly tailored to address specific national security issues, which should largely calm the nerves of those in the industry concerned that the administration will take control of broad categories of widely available technology.», – said Kevin Wolf, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration.
The Commerce Department declined to confirm any details, but said a number of proposed rules had emerged during the review process..
Despite the seeming delay for American manufacturers, the regulator may in the future issue more rules governing overseas sales of state-of-the-art goods. The document did not specify when the rule proposals would be released, or what the controls would look like for specific countries, buyers and applications..
As a measure that can help US firms, the rules will be submitted to international bodies for approval so that they can be implemented overseas, not just in the US. This would level the playing field for US companies overseas, but would also take much longer to review and take effect, probably by mid-2021..
The department is expected to seek comments on the rules before presenting them to the public, the source said, adding that the sixth rule regarding artificial intelligence would take effect in the United States without a comment period..
Events come amid growing frustration from Republican and Democratic lawmakers over the slow pace of rule implementation, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging the Commerce Department to speed up the process.
Republican Senator Tom Cotton told Reuters that he «disappointed with lack of political will» at the Department of Commerce, accusing him of «alarming» lack of a sense of urgency.
«Despite the fact that bureaucrats and industrial enterprises are butting with each other, the Chinese Communist Party continues to buy high American technology with obvious military applications, he said. – I will delve into the actions of the Department of Commerce».
According to the updated status, the agency plans to regulate the export of quantum-diluted coolers, which are used to cool qubits in some quantum machines. Qubits are used in quantum computers to perform computations that take thousands of years on conventional computers..
The main manufacturers of refrigeration equipment are US-based ICE Oxford, Finnish Bluefors and American Janis Research. The rules will apply to the export of goods from the United States, as well as shipments of goods manufactured overseas that contain significant amounts of technology or components owned in the United States..
This rule was sent to the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning of the US Department of Commerce on November 19, along with another rule governing 3D printing for explosives, according to the document..
Comments from other departments are expected on December 5 on another export regulation of the so-called transistor field-gate technology, which is used for the production of semiconductors..
Transistors are expected to play a major role in new, faster semiconductors being developed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Intel Corp..