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U.S. Has Lost Its High-Tech Edge, New Report Finds

The AeA's follow-up study from 2005 contains chilling stats but offers a pathway to regaining an advantage in science, technology, and innovation.

Is the United States losing its competitive edge in high technology?

Yes, it is, according to a report issued Wednesday by the AeA, formerly known as the American Electronics Association. The major high-tech trade association claims the United States is losing its competitive advantage as other countries become more aggressive, but there is still time to act.

The 32-page PDF document makes two tiers of recommendations. The first tier includes immediate changes that have already been introduced in various bills, including championing dramatic improvements in the U.S. educational system, supporting and increasing research and development, and enacting high-skilled visa reform.

The second set of recommendations covers ongoing public policy and includes creating a more business-friendly environment in the United States, engaging proactively in the global trade system, and promoting broadband diffusion.

The study is significant in that it follows up on the AeA's alarming report of two years ago in which it first said the United States is at risk of squandering its edge in science, technology, and innovation.

For example, the report cites that China graduates almost six times as many engineers as the United States. Japan, with less than half the population of the United States, graduates 60% more engineers. South Korea -- with one-sixth the population and one-twelfth the gross domestic product -- graduates slightly more engineers than the United States.

Likening the United States to the proverbial frog in the pot of hot water, the AeA said: "Today, the heat is still rising and we are still in the pot."

Fortunately, the association said both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Bush appear to be "on the same page" on the issue and have plans to support legislation designed to improve the U.S. competitive situation.

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