International Trade:

U.S. Business Access to Certain Foreign State-of-the-Art Technology

NSIAD-91-278: Published: Sep 12, 1991. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1991.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether U.S. firms in the semiconductor, semiconductor materials and equipment, and computer industries were: (1) denied advanced parts, equipment, or technologies from foreign suppliers; and (2) adversely affected by any difficulties they may have experienced in obtaining foreign parts and equipment.

GAO found that: (1) 52 of the 59 high-tech companies interviewed were purchasing state-of-the-art products from Japanese suppliers and 22 of these companies provided specific examples of instances in which Japanese suppliers had rejected their offers to buy advanced equipment, parts, or technologies or had delayed their delivery by more than 6 months; (2) U.S. companies are concerned that because of the rapid advancement of technology, even a brief delay can cause a company to fall a generation behind in its technological capabilities, resulting in lost market share; (3) Japanese suppliers denied withholding products from U.S. firms and cited such reasons for delaying or denying sales as product shortages, a lack of U.S. service facilities, and the need for product testing; (4) the U.S. industry representatives who asserted that Japanese suppliers withhold certain products from U.S. firms generally did not believe this practice was illegal; (5) only 7 of the U.S. companies interviewed said they were pressured by Japanese suppliers to buy other items or license technologies in order to obtain key semiconductor components; and (6) U.S. industry representatives believe that in order to improve the United States' ability to compete, it needs to build a stronger technology base and reduce dependence on Japan for critical technologies and equipment.

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