On Monday, the United States ended a public comment period on a range of technologies critical to NATIONAL security that will be subject to strict export control rules.
The list is part of a broader push by the Trump administration to control technology exports as it competes increasingly with China in next-generation technology.
The original proposal for “emerging technologies and basic Technologies” was announced in 2018, when the United States began cracking down on Chinese smartphone and 5G technology giants Huawei Technologies and ZTE.
But the process of redefining the list has been slow to strike a delicate balance between maintaining national security and avoiding stifling foreign investment and domestic innovation in the industry.
To implement the long-delayed rules, the Commerce Department on Monday ended a 57-day comment period seeking industry input on how to identify, define and set standards for “underlying technologies.”
Once finalized, these technologies will be placed on a commercial control list and restricted from export to certain countries. Industry comments on proposed rules for underlying technologies have been mixed with defiance and caution.
“Even if [if] external suppliers are not allowed to ship certain products to a company, countries such as China will try to develop the technology themselves under state-controlled schemes,” wrote James Michael, a commenter.
“The Chinese government is already doing this, using US equipment, US intellectual property, US software and Us engineers [Chinese-American] to develop sensitive technology,” he said. And importantly, Chinese companies that use U.S. technology to develop sensitive technology will also be restricted.
‘If you really want to take China down, ban them from using any tools and software,’ warned another commenter. “There is no doubt that this will hurt China in the short term. “The long-term impact on the US high-tech industry (and the domestic economy) is negative, and A meaningful response from China is likely after November 2.”
Since the Export Control Reform Act was signed into law in August 2018, the Commerce Department has been reclassifying “emerging and basic technologies”.
The US Department of Commerce first identified 14 categories of “emerging technologies”, including biotechnology, artificial intelligence and robotics.
The Commerce Department has identified four categories, including specific chemical procurement for chemical weapons and artificial intelligence technology for geospatial analysis.
In January, the Commerce Department issued the first of a series of new rules imposing export licensing requirements on these technologies. Restrictions on basic technologies are not expected soon.
In addition, any technology, whether emerging or fundamental, will be considered “critical” and all may require mandatory notification to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS). CFIUS is an interagency body that reviews foreign purchases of US assets to protect national security.
As technology evolves rapidly, “foundational” technology is harder to define. Instead, the agency lists general types that can be considered fundamental.
These include products generally used for military purposes, software, and technology needed for mass weapons production, and products that can further enhance foreign intelligence capabilities in the countries concerned.