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New nanotech export controls opposed

The leading semiconductor equipment industry association has taken a strong stand (one-page pdf) against new U.S. nanotech export controls:

“SEMI is concerned about possible new export controls on nanotechnology products and cautions against further controls until this technology is better defined.

“Nanotechnology should not be controlled simply because it is nanotechnology. This label is often applied quite broadly. Strict criteria should apply as would be the case in considering controls in other areas. In fact, existing controls may cover some items that may be deemed sensitive. Controls should be imposed only if truly necessary and any new controls should be adopted only if there is genuine multilateral agreement with our partners in the Wassenaar Arrangement. SEMI urges that any new export control regulations in nanotechnology be carefully crafted, negotiated and implemented so that U.S. companies are not put at a competitive disadvantage that would threaten U.S. leadership in this field. Enacting tighter controls at such a preliminary phase could compel companies to consider locating outside the United States to avoid overly bureaucratic regulations. It would be counterproductive to adopt policies that may spur development and location outside the United States.”

I have already heard from one U.S. nanotech company who is moving to Asia partly for these reasons. This is a real issue. —Christine

One Response to “New nanotech export controls opposed”

  1. George Elvin Says:

    SEMI’s one-page document is one of the better summaries of industry concerns over nanotech regulation I’ve seen. Their call to use current controls for products containing nanoparticles stands in opposition to the call by Greenpeace and others to impose unique regulations on products containing nanoparticles.

    Since you cite a US nanotech company that is already moving to Asia partly because of the proposed controls, maybe US nanotech firms really would pull up stakes and take their business elsewhere if they feared over-regulation.

    On the other hand, I always get concerned when industry leaders warn that regulation will hurl us into “competitive disadvantage”; that threat has been used to justify too many mistakes in the past.

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