Groups Tackle Trade Barriers

Groups Tackle Trade Barriers

Amid an Asian-Pacific currency meltdown, U.S. industry and government officials are using a variety of lobbying organizations to knock down trade barriers that hinder U.S. sales of high-tech equipment to the region:

Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum's telecom working group of government and industry officials, which is working under the APEC banner to formulate a series of telecommunications standards and policies to promote widespread use of telecommunications.

The Washington-based U.S.-Pacific Economic Cooperation Council, which organized a high-tech summit that drew hundreds of Asian and U.S. officials and executives to San Francisco Nov. 19-21.

The U.S. Information Technology Office, jointly run by the U.S. trade associations; the Telecommunications Industry Association, the American Electronics Association, the Semiconductor Industry Association and the Software Publishers Association. The office is trying to influence China's emerging telecommunications law, partly to ensure that all technology-related regulations are published and are shaped by industry comments, but also to ease U.S. competition for portions of the $42 billion being spent by the Chinese government to upgrade the nation's telecommunications network.

Other lobbying groups include the Global Internet Project, the AEA's office in Tokyo, as well as the Pacific Basin Economic Council, and the U.S.-ASEAN business council, both based in Washington.

Within Asia, Asian industry groups also are pushing for policies that will promote electronic commerce within each country.

Government officials and industry executives in Taiwan have jointly formed an Electronic Commerce Consortium to help craft laws that will promote electronic commerce, said Kue Yun, vice chairman and president of the Institute for Information Industry, an industry-funded group based in Taipei, Taiwan. The group, which is trying to promote self-regulation by industry rather than top-level regulation by the government, has already set 25 regulatory and legislative proposals to the government, he said.

In Japan, the Ministry for International Trade and Industry is spending $200 million on a series of technology demonstrations, highlighting the need for adequate rules to protect intellectual property, privacy and encryption techniques, said Norihiko Ishiguro, director of industry research for the government-funded JETRO technology organization. The tests also have shown the importance of allowing Internet users to reject unwanted material on the Internet, he said. In May, the Japanese government released draft proposals for the promotion of electronic commerce. The recommendations match the deregulatory tone of a similar U.S. report, titled "A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce," released July 1 and prepared by White House adviser Ira Magaziner.

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