By Karen Freifeld

Jan 25 (Reuters) – A tech industry group on Monday called for a review of the Trump administration’s export control policy, and urged the incoming U.S. Commerce Secretary to work with allies when curbing sales of U.S. technology to China for national security.

The group, SEMI, which represents semiconductor equipment manufacturers, among others globally, said the prior administration’s unilateral rules had made any potential benefit likely to be less effective over time, had unnecessarily hurt American industry, and left U.S. exporters vulnerable to retaliation.

In a letter to Gina Raimondo, secretary-designate of the U.S. Commerce Department, SEMI President Ajit Manocha said the United States should coordinate with allies whose companies compete in the global market.

“Multi-lateral controls – where items of concern are controlled by all major producing nations – create a level playing field, maximize effectiveness, and minimize harm to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness,” Manocha said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

Increasingly, Manocha noted, foreign competitors are marketing goods as “free from U.S. export controls.”

The letter criticizes the Trump administration for implementing rules with little public input and no clear overarching policy, and said the “highly unusual process” resulted in unintended consequences.

It urged the Commerce secretary-designate to quickly correct an August rule that expanded U.S. authority over foreign company sales to China’s Huawei, which unintentionally affected some foreign-made semiconductor production and test equipment.

It also asked the Biden administration to promptly reduce the backlog of license applications, saying delays are de facto denials.

The letter singled out 2020 regulations that curbed sales to over 100 entities the United States linked to the Chinese military without industry input. The tech group suggested the United States work with nations like the Netherlands, Germany, the U.K., Japan and Korea to develop common objectives for restricting semiconductor technology to China.

The letter was copied to the new secretary of defense, national security adviser and secretary designates of the state, energy and treasury departments.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld, Editing by Chris Sanders, William Maclean)