Implications for the United States
NSF 95-309

Implications for the United States

The rapid technological development currently taking place in Asia poses both challenges and opportunities for the United States:

The Challenges...

This report provides new evidence of a broadening technological capability in the group of four newly industrialized economies and indications that several from the group of emerging Asian economies are laying a foundation to support future technological development and competency. If these nations continue to progress technologically, U.S. high-tech industries can expect the competition for global market shares to intensify.

Yet, the challenges to the United States from Asia's technological and economic growth extend beyond the marketplace and are already reaching into the pool of talent available for U.S. business and universities. As Asia's economies grow, so too will the competition for the best science and technology (S&T) talent. Over the years, Asia has sent many of its brightest students to the United States for university training. Many of these students stayed and worked in U.S. industries. As opportunities to work at the technological cutting edge are created back in Asia, these students will return to Asia in greater numbers. The increased competition for S&T talent will not be restricted to the Asian-born scientists and engineers, but will likely affect the ability of the United States to retain the top American S&T talent now available to its industrial, university, and government sectors.[1]

But Also New Opportunities...

A broadening of the community of technologically advanced nations also provides new opportunities for U.S. high-tech industries and the U.S. S&T enterprise as a whole (universities, institutes, etc.) in the form of larger markets for goods and services and new collaborators in scientific and technological research.

For Business. With the end of the Cold War and the pending implementation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - a new world trade agreement that calls for a worldwide reduction in both tariff and nontariff barriers - the climate for global trade has never been better. The nine Asian countries profiled in this report account for nearly half the world's population, and many of these countries have the world's fastest growing economies-two regional dynamics quite apparent to U.S. business. Market opportunities for U.S. high-tech products and services in Asia can be seen in China's demand for new computing and telecommunication hardware and services, or in India's varied technological needs in computer hardware and pollution-control technologies. U.S. aircraft and aerospace technologies already find great demand all across Asia, and these business opportunities will expand as the region's economy continues to open up.

For Research. The same events that create new business opportunities - the end of the Cold War, the growing technological sophistication in a broader set of Asian countries, and the relaxation of restrictions on international business - also create many new opportunities for the U.S. science and technology research community. The many new, well-funded research institutes and technology-oriented universities surfacing across Asia will broaden the region's scientific and technological expertise and will almost certainly generate new opportunities for collaborations between Asian and U.S. researchers. Evidence of such collaboration can already be seen in the increase in new bilateral S&T agreements that facilitate cooperation involving U.S. researchers and researchers from nearly all of the nations profiled in this report.[2] With the nations of Asia each making explicit commitments to building technology-based economies, the prospects for growth in these research opportunities are quite good.[3]

On November 19, 1993, President Clinton addressed national representatives meeting in Seattle at the conference for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and marveled at the economic transformation that has already taken place in Asia, saying "...these economies have gone from being dominoes to dynamos, ...."[4] President Clinton went on to say, "Much of what Asia needs to continue in its growth pattern are goods and services in which we (the United States) are strong: aircraft, financial services, telecommunications, infrastructure, and others." In response to Asia's development, U.S. agencies with export promotion policies are making adjustments to reflect the growing importance of the Asian region to the United States.[5] U.S. participation in international organizations that include or focus on relations with Asia is now given higher priority.[6]

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1. See NSF(1993).
2. Science, Technology and American Diplomacy, 16th Annual Report to Congress by the President, 1994, Appendix 1: "U.S. International S&T Agreements by Country."
3. For a recent examination of national technology strategies in Asia, see Dahlman (1994).
4. See U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication, Dispatch ,Vol. 4, No. 48, "The APEC Role in Creating Jobs, Opportunities, and Security," President Clinton's address on November 19, 1993, to the Seattle APEC Host Committee.
5. See "Coordination of U.S. Export Promotion Activities in Pacific Rim Countries," United States General Accounting Office Report (GAO/GGD-94-192) August 1994.
6. See U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of Public Communication, Dispatch, Vol. 5, No. 48, "America and the Asia-Pacific Future," Secretary Christopher's address to the Asia Society, New York City, May 27, 1994.

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