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Industry Group Asks Biden to Rethink Trump’s China Tech Sanctions

Yang Ge / Jan 28, 2021 02:39 PM / World

Donald Trump may be gone from the White House, but his legacy of sanctions against Chinese tech firms lives on.

Now a major semiconductor group is asking new U.S. President Joe Biden to review some of those sanctions, saying they ultimately harm America’s competitiveness as much as they hurt the Chinese companies they were meant to target. The sanctions in question prohibit U.S. tech firms from selling to Chinese buyers unless they obtain special licenses from Washington.

The trade group known as SEMI has sent a letter to Biden pointing out that while sanctions are a “powerful national security tool,” they unfairly hurt American companies because Chinese buyers can often find alternate suppliers in other countries.

“Over time, unilateral controls will stifle innovation in the U.S. by reducing the financial resources U.S. exporters need to perform R&D and maintain our technological competitiveness and/or by forcing companies to shift production and R&D outside the United States,” SEMI said.

Observers said Biden could well rethink the Trump sanctions. In some areas, particularly for chips, Biden could well switch gears and lower many of the Trump-era prohibitions in favor of a strategy of a “managed form of interdependence,” said Steven Weber, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley. But Gartner chip analyst Sheng Linghai said any overhaul won’t come quickly, since the mood in the U.S. remains ‘Trumpist’ and Biden is also likely to first focus on other issues.

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