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Trump, Tides, and the US Tech Sector

Gregory Francis

When a tax is too high people avoid it, and when the political cost of supporting the US government becomes too high, foreign governments will avoid it too. Add to that cost America's new inclination to withdrawal, and consider the muddy tidal flat on which could soon list the hull of what used to be American technological primacy.


Immigration: Simple Math and Algebra

When countries try to develop technology policies to compete with the United States, they often begin with rules over immigration. As far back as 2016, when Canada was retrenching to build a stronger sector, their first task was to loosen the immigration rules around the tech talent they wanted to attract. Singapore did the same not long before that. Even famously inflexible France understood in her post-Brexit reflex to draw blood from the UK tech sector that she needed to make it easier for Britons of all stripes to move, tech savvy ones to the fore and, breaking with 400 years of tradition, France is now accepting certain official filings in English only. Hotels are made comfortable by the many hands that dust and serve and clean at low cost, but technology empires are built on talent that is educated, productive, and hopefully even contented. President Trump's blanket ban on citizens of some of the world's most ancient civilizations — including those that gave us advanced algebra — will merely send that talent to Canada (Welcome!/Bienvenue!).

Multilateral Power is a Numbers Game

If a draft executive order that (may) seek to revisit US funding for multilateral organizations is signed soon, the consequences of American rigidity will be even more tangible. Such withdrawal may include a step back from sinister groups such as the International Civil Aviation Organization that create air safety standards, or the International Telecommunication Union that harmonizes — already a suspect word — arrangements in support of communications, or UNESCO, where tenets of Internet governance are discussed and meted out. The effects on the ability of US technology firms to lead in the rollout of drones, in the delivery of broadband networks and wireless power transmissions, and to shape the multistakeholder model of Internet governance will be directly at risk. One could say it's appropriate to defund those same multilateral structures that provided such a useful adornment to the Pax Americana and which helped fertilize America's international economic bloom. The Tech Sector should not.

Predictive Text: Less4U

What then? As US engagement wanes, consumers internationally will be less likely to retain a long-term taste for American services and content. As their tastes shift, America's ability to adapt may slow for lack of talent and reach. Support from trading partners and allies to prop up US dominance in the banal arenas that set cybersecurity standards, manage the DNS, and generally provide a route to market for America's tech products and services will ebb as surely as a North Sea tide. And when US Tech seeks to rally support to retain even the lamest rule that favours US services, who will come? The European Union is today not obviously positioned as a champion of US Tech. The UK, America's oldest and best ally, is suddenly convulsed, parliamentarians openly calling for rejection of the US Administration (admittedly this is a favoured national pastime, though this time it's angry). Mexico? Who will rally? Some, though fewer than today. After which new innovators will emerge from India, China, Turkey, or Indonesia, supported by protected markets and political power that will drive demand for their technology. And US consumers will pay that tax too.

By Gregory Francis, Managing Director at Access Partnership
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Other specialized agencies and sectors affected Anthony Rutkowski  –  Jan 31, 2017 1:44 PM PDT

The insane inhabitants infesting the White House and their friends on the Hill have forgotten the list of specialized agencies and collateral damage.  The entire list can be found here.

ICAO and ITU were mentioned but consider the others.  Impacted sectors include health and disease control (WHO), U.S. holders of intellectual property (WIPO & UNESCO), global metrology (WMO), world trade (WTO), global finance (World Bank and International Monetary Fund), global maritime and navigation (WMO), among others. 

What rational human being is going to pull the plug on those functions worldwide?  Are all the 196 countries going to create a 196 x 196 matrix of bilateral agreements?  Is that matrix in some bizarre world more efficient?

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