Commerce chief presses export control reforms
The Obama administration is making good on its promise to reform the country's aging export control system by requiring the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security to eliminate certain 'dual-use' export license requirements for allies and partner countries, and implement a 'fast-track' process to review licenses for other countries that do not pose a significant threat and have a strong history of export control compliance.
'The United States must be seen as a reliable supplier — which is why it is so important to make our export control system more expeditious, transparent and predictable,' Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told attendees at the BIS Update Conference on Export Controls in Washington on Thursday.
In August, the White House called for a broad-based interagency review of the U.S. export control system, including both dual-use items that have both commercial and military applications, as well as defense trade processes.
Locke warned that the current export control regime results in many companies being 'engineered out' of collaborative foreign projects. He said there are many examples in which overseas manufacturers are changing their product designs or soliciting high-tech components from other countries to avoid dealing with U.S. suppliers.
'America puts our exporters in an untenable position when we forbid or delay them from selling an item to an overseas market even when foreign competitors face no similar restrictions from their home country,' Locke said.
He said eliminating certain dual-use export license requirements to allies and partner countries would 'stem the trend of foreign suppliers having a competitive advantage over U.S. companies in these critical trade markets due solely to the difference in export control policies. This is a low-risk and high-impact change that will immediately help our exports become more competitive.'
Locke has also directed a Commerce Department team to develop a plan to 'dramatically reduce the number of days it takes to review a license application for certain transactions, and bring our system more in line with that of our international export control regime partners and competitors.'
He emphasized that these reforms are not an invitation for companies to ignore U.S. export control regulations. 'Make no mistake, any reform must maintain a robust and active enforcement regime to punish those who would seek to sell sensitive technologies to our enemies,' Locke said. ' Chris Gillis