Tech Weighs in on Presidential Agenda

Wednesday, May 04, 2016, 11:00pm

by John Neuffer, President and CEO

As the presidential election year comes into sharper focus this week, the tech community is weighing in with the priorities it believes should be central to the public debate in the months ahead – priorities that are critical to sustaining a strong America and a strong American economy.

In an open letter sent today to the presidential candidates, SIA and the heads of 12 other tech associations representing thousands of U.S. companies and their employees wrote that “a central challenge of our time must be leveraging our strengths to expand opportunities and better prepare more citizens for the opportunities ahead.” To help meet this challenge and to ensure America remains at the forefront of economic and technological leadership, the associations attached to the letter a Technology Sector Presidential Platform that sets forth a series of policy recommendations. They are meant to:


1. Ensure Americans possess the skills and talents needed for 21st century success;
2. Foster a business climate that rewards risk and promotes innovation;
3. Encourage a fair and open global market for goods and services; and
4. Maintain cutting-edge U.S. infrastructure that supports entrepreneurship.

Doubling down on developing America’s science and technology workforce, updating our arcane tax code, strengthening our cybersecurity, protecting the lifeblood of innovation, intellectual property, and a number of other more specific recommendations are embedded in the Platform.

The heads of the associations also weighed in strongly on trade, a topic that has been a hot-button issue during this presidential campaign. To be sure, trade does cause pain to some in our society and we need to do more in terms of retraining workers who are displaced as a result of global trade. A better framed question, however, is not whether the U.S. needs to trade with the rest of the world, but rather who will take the lead in writing the rules for global trade in today’s complex, globalized world. If we do not, others will.

Global trade has fueled peace and prosperity for centuries and it is critical to the success of the semiconductor industry. More than 80 percent of the U.S. semiconductor industry’s sales are to customers outside the United States, so our industry’s ability to grow, innovate, and create jobs is closely tied to our ability to reach overseas markets. In addition, behind autos and airplanes, the semiconductor industry is America’s third-largest exporter of manufactured products.

We need trade and America needs an active trade agenda, and that is why these 13 tech associations included in the Platform a clarion call to Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP will yield vast commercial benefits and it will be pivotal to ensuring our geopolitical leadership in the region.

We have many months between now and Election Day in November. The Technology Sector Presidential Platform issued today is the tech sector’s attempt to put on the table those priorities we believe are critical to America’s future.