Maj. Gen. Robert Dickman, USAF (retired), executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), testified Feb. 25 before the House Committee on Science and Technology on the “Impacts of U.S. Export Control Policies on Science and Technology Activities and Competitiveness.” He said that current U.S. trade and visa policies are adversely affecting America’s national and economic security by stifling innovation, reducing core sector competencies, weakening the aerospace industrial base, and diminishing American competitiveness in the global marketplace.
Dickman said that, while it is important to be sensitive to the security concerns surrounding advanced technologies, it is no less important to be mindful of the crucial need for a sound aerospace industry base. He stated: “U.S. trade and visa policies, put in place to provide additional layers of national security, are having severe and long-term effects on advanced systems technology sectors and the professional workforce that serves them.” He pointed out that the current trade rules have made the U.S. aerospace research sector more risk averse, due to cumbersome certification protocols mandated by current law.
Dickman told the committee, “It is time to make a realistic evaluation of how these policies are being implemented and what effects they are having. With U.S. companies prevented by export controls from competing in certain markets, foreign competitors spring to fill these competitive gaps.” He called for Congress to revise national trade and visa policies in four areas:
Adequate government investment in the nation’s educational infrastructure and workforce, to support development of the next generation of American engineers and scientists;
Encouraging global engagement in science and technology as a way to increase our investment in research and test facilities, thus preserving our technological superiority in the marketplace;
Changing current visa policies to promote access and inclusion of international students and researchers into U.S. colleges and universities, thus increasing the talent pool participating in U.S.-based research projects; and
Streamlining the review process for export controlled products and components, to make it more uniform and less cumbersome, and to standardize licensing considerations and protocols.
Dickman stated: “We need to create and support programs and facilities that really captivate our students at a young age with hands-on instruction and training, so that we are developing a homegrown workforce that is enthusiastic and capable in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. They will be the foundation of our nation’s ability to compete and excel in an ever more competitive global marketplace.”