Science Caught in Trade War Crossfire

WASHINGTON--Trade disputes could harm international scientific cooperation unless governments open high-tech markets and encourage balanced cooperation, according to a report* released today by the National Research Council (NRC).

The report, produced by an international committee of economists, industry leaders, and trade experts, finds that countries are using subsidies and restrictive trade measures to develop high-tech industries that promise fast economic growth, high wages, and greater national autonomy. But it warns that such barriers to free trade will harm the industries they are designed to protect.

The report recommends eliminating all tariffs in high-tech sectors by the year 2000 or earlier, removing restrictions on telecommunications investment and services, and establishing and protecting international intellectual property rights. It also encourages governments to purchase high-tech goods and services in the international market, rather than purchasing only from domestic companies. Governments should invest in basic corporate and academic research and development, the committee says, but they recommend that such investments be subject to international penalties if they result in an unfair advantage for a company.

The recommendations are designed to prevent international trade disputes like those over semiconductors and commercial aircraft in the 1980s, says NRC project director Charles Wessner. ``If we're going to avoid some nasty outcomes, we need to get some rules in place,'' he says.

For further information, see the NRC's Web site.