Trump’s election win paints uncertain future for tech

Article By : Rick Merritt

Donald J. Trump’s upset win of the U.S. presidential election will roil a technology sector largely opposed to his positions on trade and immigration.

The view of America from Silicon Valley on the day after the U.S. election is, at best, uncertain.

Donald J. Trump’s upset win of the U.S. presidential election will roil a technology sector largely opposed to his positions on trade and immigration. It’s still unclear where President-elect Trump stands on other top tech issues such as corporate tax laws and federal R&D spending.

The Semiconductor Industry Association has long advocated free trade such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and other trade deals and relaxed immigration for foreign nationals with advanced STEM degrees.

In the campaign, Trump made clear he wants to “rip up” and renegotiate existing trade deals in hopes of reviving manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Apple chief executive Steve Jobs once famously told President Obama those jobs have gone overseas and are not coming back.

The prospect of trade wars and rising tariffs raise concerns for U.S. tech executives. Most of their sales these days are outside the U.S.

The tech industry has long been concerned the rising percentage of advanced STEM degrees awarded in the U.S. are going to foreign nationals. These talented people often find it difficult to stay in the U.S.

President-elect Trump campaigned on a platform of tightening immigration, specifically with Mexico and people of Muslim faith. His sometimes offensively broad brush strokes raise fears many others could get caught up in a rising tide of paranoia.

It’s not clear where President-elect Trump will come down on issues regarding federal support for tech research. However he will have several opportunities to impact decisions in the area.

President Obama set up a working group of semiconductor executives likely to recommend early next year spending billions on a chip sector facing several strategic challenges. The National Strategic Computing Initiative, also set up under Obama, aims to build multiple exascale-class supercomputers for U.S. national labs, but its funding expected to range from ₹23,331.78 crore-₹36,664.22 crore ($3.5-$5.5 billion) is not yet set.

It’s also unclear where President-elect Trump will come down on tax reform. The SIA has lobbied for lowering the statutory U.S. corporate tax rate of 35% which is higher than any of its peers.

The issue comes up at a time when the European Union has thrown a spotlight on Apple’s use of Ireland as a haven for low taxes.

President-elect Trump was clear about his desire to repeal Obamacare. Such a move will have broad implications although it’s not clear if any of them would be specific to the tech sector.

Dozens of tech executives, investors and engineers including Vint Cerf, Irwin and Paul Jacobs, Vinod Khosla and Steve Wozniak posted an open letter opposing Trump prior to yesterday’s vote. It stated in part, “We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not.”

Last night hundreds of mainly young people took to the streets in nearby Oakland and Berkeley and other U.S. cities to protest against Trump's election, the New York Times reported.

Overall, President-elect Trump made several bold but unspecific statements in his campaign. Just where he takes the country, the tech sector and the rest of the world remains to be seen.

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