Commentary: Protectionist moves cannot preserve U.S. technological edge
Date: 2018-6-28

Commentary: Protectionist moves cannot preserve U.S. technological edge

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday issued support for "strong" legislation and mechanism to hold back foreign entities from acquiring key technologies.

Washington needs to be fully aware that protectionist logic and measure as such would inflict poison, not promise, to U.S. prosperity.

In a statement, Trump vowed to implement promptly and enforce rigorously the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) that better protects the "crown jewels" of American technology and intellectual property from transfers and acquisitions, which allegedly threaten America's "critical technology leadership, national security, and future economic prosperity."

Although the statement did not refer to the administration's previous threats to roll out restrictive executive measures solely against Chinese entities, the announcement, coming on the heels of a series of U.S. threats to slap trade tariffs against other nations this year, still represents Washington's readiness further down towards a close-door trajectory featuring nothing but unilateralism and zero-sum protectionism.

Such a mindset, which runs counter to all market rules, would pose damage to its trading partners and ultimately hurt the interests of America's own firms and general public.

One of the U.S. leader's arguments, for all the time, is to bring a promising future to the country's industrial workers, yet up to now, pains are what they have felt.

Harley-Davidson, a "crown jewel" of U.S. manufacturing industry, has decided to move its productions to other countries to evade Europe's retaliatory tariffs triggered by U.S. measures.

Hog farmers in the U.S. state of Iowa are also losing presumably hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in merely two months in the heat of a trade war threat.

Sadly, Washington has seemed not ready to draw lessons from consequences of its arbitrary whim. Rather, it has even expanded such reckless policy measures to foreign investment, in an appalling bid to secure U.S. technological cutting edge at the expense of others.

While closing its own door, the United States is pressuring others to open theirs. As the world's largest economy, it should neither fear to compete with others, nor limit competition through protectionist acts.

History has proved that the real edge of U.S. high-tech industries lies in their ability to keep innovation.

What's more alarming now is Washington's willingness to use "national security" to justify all its coercive and restrictive measures. Such a preposterous pretext would lead the country merely to self-isolation, undoubtedly cost its own competitiveness, and rock the entire global economic and trading system.

It is high time for Washington to reconsider the aftermaths of its current approaches, and walk its talk to secure free trade and investment. After all, protectionist moves are unable to preserve America's technological edge.