Beyond the Zero-Sum Game: Technology Transfer and International Security in the Twenty-First Century
About This Event

Globalization and rapid advances in high technology are transforming how we will live, work, and protect ourselves in the twenty-first century and beyond. Many of the most important and revolutionary of these changes are taking place in the developing world and emerging markets, offering new hope for even the poorest Listen to Audio

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of nations. Even as the transfer of talent, technology, and investment overseas spurs positive innovation, new risks arise as terrorists and rogue states relentlessly pursue technologies to develop weapons of mass destruction. Developing sound policies to promote the safe transfer of technology, as well as preventing these technologies from falling into the hands of those who would do us harm, are profound challenges confronting us all. Please join AEI and the Bureau of Industry and Security of the U.S. Department of Commerce for a discussion about these important issues.

8:45 a.m.
Mario Mancuso, U.S. Department of Commerce
Keynote Speaker:
Mark Fuller, Monitor Group
Panel I: Emerging Models for Innovation and the Implications for National Security
Thomas Lehrman, Boliven, LLC
David Marchick, Carlyle Group
Alan Tonelson, U.S. Business and Industrial Council

Panel II: Promoting National Security and Counterproliferation—the Role of Export Controls

Matthew Borman, U.S. Department of Commerce
Satoshi Miura, Government of Japan
Mark Groombridge, U.S. Department of Commerce
12:30 p.m.
Event Summary


U.S. Technology Transfer and International Security for the Future



WASHINGTON, SEPTEMBER 24, 2008--Experts from the business community, academia, and the U.S. government discussed the future of America's policy toward technology transfer and national security at an AEI event on Wednesday, September 24. As globalization and information technology have changed the way that the world conducts business, the challenges in regulating technology transfer have increased and nations are presented with a paradox; protect their technology or share it. The ease through which ideas can flow around the world, the increasingly international supply chain of goods development, and the lack of accountability of international corporations to any single government have made old paradigms of regulation obsolete.

"It is greatly in the interest of innovative nations to restrict technological access, both to limit misuse and to preserve advantage," said Mark Fuller of the Monitor Group. "But, at the same time, it is also fundamentally in their interest to share this technology, precisely because sharing generates more innovation, more wealth, and more prosperity which in turn strengthens existing relationships and promotes stability and security."

Matthew Borman of the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Department of Commerce , offered a number of ongoing changes to the American policy approach to export control, addressing the paradox presented by Fuller. His suggestions include increasing the number and width of secure trade channels in order to ensure both government control and visibility over technology transfer. He noted that it is imperative for the United States to encourage technology transfer for both economic and security reasons, as U.S. economic prosperity is inextricably linked with international innovation and the U.S. government has little authority over dual use technology transfer between foreign companies.

David M. Marchick of the Carlyle Group feared that unwarranted protectionism in export control policy will stifle future innovation. He noted a disturbing worldwide trend toward greater restriction of international foreign direct investment. He said that America's recent track record on international economic issues has undermined its "moral authority," particularly through the Dubai Ports World case and congressional inquiries over sovereign wealth funds. Marchick argued that America's role as a world economic leader required a renewed commitment to the free flow of technology and ideas across borders.

Alan Tonelson of the U.S. Business and Industrial Council, said that the more pressing concern was the national security implications of technology transfer, saying America's current international trade regime is woefully inadequate to combat post-Cold War national security threats. "At least monitoring, much less regulating, militarily relevant technology transfer is not at all a high priority of the U.S. government," he said. "And as long as that situation remains true . . . U.S. export controls will remain broken and U.S. international economic policy will not be doing a remotely adequate job of protecting U.S. national security."

"The real problem with our export control regime as it regards military technology stems from confusion and uncertainty about what our strategy ought to be," said AEI resident fellow Thomas Donnelly. He argued that these problems are more easily dealt with when there is a clear vision: "If we could better sort out what we are trying to accomplish in the world then we might be better able rationalize a technology control regime that supports those goals."

The panelists agreed that the future of international business and the new nature of America's national security threats will necessitate major changes to U.S. export control policy, and Wednesday's event served as a part of a growing conversation. As Mario Mancuso, undersecretary of commerce for industry and security concluded, "How do we work together to ensure that global technology trade, investment, and innovation make our world both more prosperous and more secure? Starting a conversation to begin to answer this question is what this conference is all about."


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For media inquiries, contact Véronique Rodman at 202.862.4870 or [email protected].


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