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Industry groups call for U.S. export control modernization

Industry groups call for U.S. export control modernization

Eight large U.S. industry groups have joined together in a coalition to encourage the Bush administration and Congress to pursue serious reform of the country’s export control policies.

   The Coalition for Security and Competitiveness comprises the Aerospace Industries Association, Association for Manufacturing Technology, Coalition for Employment through Exports, Electronics Industries Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

   “It is essential that our system of controlling U.S. technology exports is modernized in a way that enhances our ability to counter rapidly and decisively evolving threats, and to maintain our global technological leadership and industrial competitiveness,” the coalition said in a letter to President Bush this week.

   The coalition seeks an improved export control system that:

   * Accurately identifies and safeguards sensitive and militarily critical technologies.

   * Enhances U.S. technological leadership and global industrial competitiveness through more responsive and efficient regulatory management.

   * Facilitates defense trade and technological exchange with allies and trusted partners.

   * Supports a strong U.S. technology industrial base and highly skilled workforce.

   * Promotes greater multilateral cooperation with friendly nations on export controls.

   The current system of export controls is mainly regulated by the U.S. Commerce and State departments. Commerce processes more than 18,000 export authorizations a year, while State processes more than 65,000 licenses a year, a figure that has been increasing by about 8 percent annually.

   “Some cases take months to process, causing a detrimental impact on allies, trading partners and exporters in general,” the coalition said. “Last year, the State Department had a 10,000-case backlog that is still being whittled down.”

   The coalition endorses the hiring of additional licensing and agreements officers to ease processing delays and develop new types of authorizations for exports.

   “The international marketplace is changing rapidly with new competitors emerging in both developed and transitioning economies,” said John Engler, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers, in a statement. “We need a modern export control system that recognizes this new environment and enables U.S. companies to compete and continue their technological leadership.”

   Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Christopher Padilla said he looks forward to reviewing the coalition’s export control policy reform suggestions.

   “We particularly appreciate the coalition’s support for the Validated End User (VEU) program, an initiative BIS unveiled last summer to better enhance the ‘trusted customer’ approach,” Padilla said in a statement. “While there was initial skepticism for this program at that time, support has been steadily increasing. The strong endorsement for the VEU program from the coalition is a welcome development.”

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