- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2001

President Bush told a group of about 150 high-tech leaders assembled in the East Room of the White House yesterday that his administration stands firmly behind the nation's technology companies.

The president told technology executives he wants to help them by easing export controls on computers and boosting federal research-and-development funding to $95 billion.

"You've done so much for your country, it's time for your country to do something for you," the president said in his first meeting with technology-industry leaders yesterday.

The president also appointed a new presidential adviser on science-and-technology policy, naming California venture capitalist Floyd Kvamme the co-chairman of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.

Former President George Bush started the advisory group in 1990.

In a memo to high-tech leaders, the administration said the president's high-tech agenda includes:

• Increasing free trade and fighting to open new markets for America's high-tech industry.

• Reforming export-control policy by significantly narrowing restrictions on commercial products, including export restrictions based on computing speed.

• Making the research-and-development tax credit permanent.

• Increasing the federal commitment to research and development to $95 billion in 2002.

• Doubling funding for the National Institutes of Health by fiscal 2003 and increasing funding for the Patent and Trademark Office.

"I think it's a good package," said Bobbie Kilberg, president of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, which represents more than 1,750 tech companies.

"The president said the things that are important to me and important to other business leaders," said Mrs. Kilberg, one of 18 Northern Virginia technology executives attending the summit.

The president's high-tech agenda revolves around a desire to spur innovation through massive investment in research and to remove barriers to bolster exports for an industry battered by the stock market over the past year.

"This administration has great confidence in the future of our technology industry," Mr. Bush said. "We recognize, like you do, that the stock market may be sending a little different message right now, that people have suffered losses and there are some difficult times for some of the companies in the high-tech world. But the accomplishments of the industry are rock-solid. The future is incredibly bright."

High-tech companies contributed $1.1 million to Mr. Bush's campaign, based on preliminary data released by the Federal Election Commission on March 1. Former Vice President Al Gore collected $570,000 from the technology industry.

Executives were looking for Mr. Bush to deliver on a campaign promise to ease export restrictions on powerful technology. The AeA, formerly the American Electronics Association, this week released data indicating high-tech exports grew last year to more than $222 billion, a 22 percent increase over 1999 exports of technology equipment.

"The new export data also highlights the need for public policies that further pry open markets abroad, particularly at a time when America's domestic economy is so sluggish," AeA President William T. Archey said.

The president also urged high-tech executives to support his tax cut proposal and education-reform plan. The latter includes strengthening math and science education.

"To compete with companies in countries like China and India, we are going to have to focus on education and training," said Harris N. Miller, president of the Infomation Technology Association of America.

The East Room summit continued after the president's remarks with a private meeting between Cabinet members and high-tech executives.

Administration officials at the summit included the labor, energy and commerce secretaries, Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey and Lezlee Westine, director of the White House Office of Public Liaison.

Mr. Kvamme, a former Apple Computer executive, said following the summit he will report to the National Science and Technology Council, a group of Cabinet secretaries that reports to the president.


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