The Computer & Communications Industry Association welcomed the United States Trade Representative’s announcement Tuesday that it had requested WTO dispute settlement action on duties imposed by the European Union on high-tech products covered by the WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The 1997 ITA conferred duty-free treatment on information technology products and has had a huge…
CCIA has long worked to ease or remove excessive export controls on high-tech products. Export controls were created during the Cold War to limit the ability of communist or rogue states to come into possession of state-of-the-art computing or other technology that could endanger our national security. However, world conditions have changed significantly. Rather than a U.S.-centric system, technological progress is now more likely to occur through collaboration with allies, and the current export control system obstructs the sharing of information. In addition, new technologies are increasingly being developed in the commercial sector, rather than the military sector.
While CCIA strongly agrees with the need to protect our national security, we believe it is important to guard against measures that would unreasonably limit or burden the legitimate export business of technology companies. Practical considerations must be weighed in fashioning any of these controls. The ideal export control regime would be narrowly targeted at such exports that truly threaten our national security if obtained by adversaries, without impeding legitimate export operations. CCIA opposes broadly drawn export controls that fail to make this distinction and would unnecessarily include many technology products. In addition, we oppose unilateral U.S. export controls which would result in the ceding of markets to foreign companies whose countries have less rigorous controls. We look forward to reforms that result in regularly updated and justifiable “higher walls around fewer items.”