US INDUSTRIAL POLICIES RECEIVE MIXED REVIEW

US INDUSTRIAL POLICIES RECEIVE MIXED REVIEW

A prominent business-labor group has given the Clinton administration and Congress a mixed review for their actions this year affecting the United States' international competitiveness.

The government won high marks for its support of high-tech research and development but it was criticized on the tax policy front.Making the evaluation was the Washington-based Council on Competitiveness, a group of leading businessmen, labor leaders and educators. Overall, said George Fisher, the new Eastman Kodak Co. chairman who chairs the council, the government's actions this year rate a "B."

The assessment is the first of a series of annual evaluations the council

plans on the government's technology-related initiatives.

The government was faulted this year for failing, once again, to enact a permanent research and development tax credit, although Congress did enact a three-year extension of the credit. Short-term extensions are not good enough, the council said. "Research planners," it said, "are reluctant to rely on a (short-term) credit because there is no guarantee that the policy in place at the beginning of a project will be in place when it ends."

Scored, too, was the absence of an investment tax credit to help U.S. industry modernize. The United States, the council noted, "lags far behind its global competitors in capital investment." Japan, for example, offers 20 percent to 40 percent investment tax credits.

But, the council said, the government made "major progress" this year by making more government money available to companies for advanced technology research and development. It also praised the increased funding for the National Science Foundation and a new antitrust law encouraging joint production ventures.

Next year, Mr. Fisher said, the council may focus more on government efforts to loosen U.S. export controls, which are estimated to be costing high-tech U.S. companies billions of dollars a year in lost foreign sales.