Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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9.5.1 Barriers to Technology Transfer between Countries

Developing countries and CEITs suffer from the same factors that inhibit transfer of environmentally sound technologies as in industrialised countries (see Section 9.4.1), plus a multitude of other problems. The problems also hinder transfer between countries.

High inflation rates in developing countries/CEITs and lack of sufficient infrastructure increase the risks for domestic and foreign investors and limit the availability of capital. Lack of capital may result in the purchasing of used industrial equipment (Sturm et al., 1997), resulting in higher energy use and/or GHG emissions, as well as higher production costs. Trade in second- hand industrial equipment to developing countries and CEITs is quite common in most industrial sectors, e.g. cement, chemical, pulp & paper and steel industries. National trade and investment policies may limit the inflow of foreign capital. This might be a barrier to technology transfer (see also Section 9.3). Recent liberalisation of investment regimes, in e.g. the mining industry, is seen as a way to transfer and acquire new technologies and reduce environmental damage (Warhurst and Bridge, 1997). This also applies to the role of TNCs and their role in technology transfer (see e.g. Case Study 13, Chapter 16). The technology cooperation to phase out the use of PFCs in the manufacture of semiconductors in the Global Semiconductor Partnership provides an example of cooperation between TNCs as a way to improve access of knowledge and technologies (Andersen, 1998a) within a more liberalised market, and a way to avoid command and control regulations.

Information about and assessment of technologies provided by foreign suppliers is more difficult for local investors in developing economies. Dependence on foreign suppliers may also induce risks in the case of technological support. For almost all industries the major suppliers can be found in the industrialised world, although some developing countries (e.g. China, India) or sectors (e.g. sugar cane processing) develop and supply indigenous and even advanced technologies (e.g. Korea) as well. Experience has shown that environmental considerations should be more carefully integrated into development and corporation policies. The policies in technology producing countries for transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries seem to be inadequate (UN, 1998). In developing countries and CEITs a lack of protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) may exist, which is seen as a barrier by technology suppliers (UN, 1998; see also section 3.5 on IPR). Also, technology licensing procedures may be time consuming, leading to high transaction costs. Besides the problems with technology selection and supply, inadequate environmental policies, or implementation thereof, in developing countries and CEITs may reduce the demand for such technologies.

Basically, similar problems affect the international transfer of technology, but even more severely. This illuminates the need for closer collaboration between industrialised and developing countries as well as CEITs, especially in the areas of technological innovation, strengthening of local capacity, and increased training and information. In the next section we will discuss international experiences with technology transfer, based on case studies and available literature.

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