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The maker of desktop 3-D printers, which can produce everything from dentures to Tesla car parts, is the kind of company that President Trump once said must be protected from Chinese investors seeking American technology secrets.
But Formlabs’s eagerness to accept funds from a Chinese investment firm backed by the country’s government shows why any attempt to insulate the American technology sector from an economic adversary risks damaging the very industry it seeks to protect.
On Sunday, one day before he was due to recommend to the White House new limits on Chinese investments in high-tech U.S. industries, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced instead that the trade war with China was “on hold.”
Other administration officials continue to push for constraints on China’s ability to buy into U.S. technology companies. “As this process continues, the U.S. may use all of its legal tools to protect our technology through tariffs, investment restrictions and export regulations,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said shortly after Mnuchin’s comments. “Real structural change is necessary. Nothing less than the future of tens of millions of American jobs is at stake.”
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