Labor has proposed stronger export restrictions on gas, promising to help reduce energy costs by reserving more domestic supply. On Monday Bill Shorten will promise a permanent gas export control trigger that can be pulled when gas prices are too high, not just when a gas shortfall is forecast. In 2017 the Turnbull government introduced a mechanism for export controls but did not pull the trigger because it reached agreement with major gas producers to quarantine additional supply for the domestic market. Labor also proposes new powers for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to crack down on anti-competitive behaviours and to boost domestic supply by introducing a new national interest test for project approvals. Under the new rules the amount of gas due to be dedicated to domestic use will be a consideration for the approval of projects including all new liquified natural gas export facilities or significant expansions of existing facilities.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the White House is cooking up new export controls on China. The idea is to restrict exports to China of technologies that could assist in China's Made in China 2025 manufacturing upgrade initiative. That initiative focuses on 10 priority industries, which include new advanced information technology; automated machine tools and robotics; aerospace and aeronautical equipment; maritime equipment and high-tech shipping; modern rail transport equipment; new-energy vehicles and equipment; power equipment; agricultural equipment; new materials; and biopharma and advanced medical products. Some of these items and technology might on the Commerce Control List and may already be controlled for export to China. Politico reports that the National Security Council is drawing up a list of technologies to be controlled for export to China targeting the priority sectors for Made in China 2025.
The Trump Administration and Beijing are close to inking a deal which would potentially restart ZTE's crippled business. According to sources speaking to Reuters, the governments are currently finalizing an agreement which would remove an existing US export order which has sent ZTE's fortunes into a downward spiral. ZTE was hit with a ban by the US Commerce Department which prevented US companies from selling hardware and equipment to the telecommunications giant for seven years. The export restrictions were imposed after it was alleged that ZTE lied to the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in relation to the discipline of senior staff apparently involved in illegal trade deals with to Iran and North Korea. Instead of disciplinary measures, ZTE allegedly awarded these executives large bonuses for their participation.
According to the proposal, the purpose of the restrictions would be to bolster the U.S.'s national security -- after all, AI has many potential military uses, so why would the U.S. want to put that technology in the hands of nations such as China or North Korea? Silicon Valley opposes these AI export restrictions for a few reasons, according to the NYT's story. Perhaps most obviously, they could hurt American companies and help foreign ones. By limiting where companies such as Amazon and Google could sell their AI services, the restrictions would damage those companies' bottom lines. They'll also leave open a market gap that other nations, such as China, could fill.