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World Semiconductor Council Pushes for Internet Growth

Newport Beach, Calif. was host to the sixth annual meeting of the World Semiconductor Council (WSC) this week at which five of the most prominent semiconductor associations gathered to affirm their commitment to solving issues of global concern facing the industry today.

The purpose of WSC is to make policy recommendations that promote expansion of the global market for information technology products and services, encourage open and competitive markets, and encourage the development and maintenance of environmental, health, and safety practices within the industry.

WSC activities and policy recommendations are guided by principles of fairness and respect consistent with World Trade Organization rules.

WSC council members include the U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), European Semiconductor Industry Association (EECA-ESIA), Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), Korea Semiconductor Industry Association (KSIA), and Taiwan Semiconductor Industry Association (TSIA).

Among issues addressed by the council were PFC (perfluorinated compound) gas emissions reduction, which the WSC has pledged to reduce by 10 percent by 2010, energy savings, chemical management, environmental safety hazard (ESH) guiding principles, and measures to support the growth of "Internet Society" as a leading driver of semiconductor demand. The semiconductor industry is the key enabling technology behind Internet and related applications.

"It is very important that trade in this area remain as open as possible and that international rules and domestic regulations foster an open and competitive market," WSC members said in a joint statement.

The council blasted governments, authorities, and organizations that are forming policies of taxation and tariffs that could hinder growth in the Internet sector, and pledged support for maintaining an environment that is favorable to the future development of the Internet and electronic commerce.

"The WSC encourages our governments/authorities to pursue policies that will foster growth, rather than encumber the development of the Internet and electronic commerce. The best approach is one that encourages industry to take responsibility to the greatest extent possible, while at the same time governments establish a predictable and transparent regulatory regime," said the WSC.

WSC recommendations will be submitted to the respective governments of its members for possible submission to the annual Governments/Authorities Meeting on Semiconductors.

The WSC issued the following recommendations on Internet policy:

  • Governments should refrain from enacting trade-related measures that impede e-commerce
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  • Electronically delivered goods and services should receive no less favorable treatment under trade rules and commitments than like products delivered in physical form, and their classification should ensure the most liberal treatment possible
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  • International trade rules should promote the existence of a competitive network infrastructure needed to accommodate increasing digital trade
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  • Governments should eliminate or promptly phase out tariff and non-tariff measures applied to IT products and services
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  • Governments should pledge not to impose non-tariff measures, such as excessively restrictive standards or licensing
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  • Governments should seek improved market access and national treatment commitments for a broad range of services that can be delivered electronically
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  • Governments should ensure that broadly defined market access commitments will enable the growth of cross-border trade in evolving IT services
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Additionally, the WSC urged governments not to impose levies on memory components as a means of compensating copyright owners because, according to WCS, it harms consumers who are exercising their fair use of copyrighted material. Instead, said WSC, governments should rely upon industry-driven solutions to protect digital copyright material.

WSC also encouraged it member associations to support guiding principles on environment, safety, and health, and to make the push within their respective countries to reduce air emissions and greenhouse gases through energy conservation measures, seek out alternative energy sources, and decrease PFC emissions.

The European Semiconductor Industry Association will host the next meeting of the WSC in May 2003.