Commerce Secretary Outlines Export Control Changes

Commerce Secretary Outlines Export Control Changes

The Obama administration is taking the first steps toward creating a new export control system that will guard sensitive technology needed for national security while facilitating the exports of less-vital technology from U.S. manufacturers, said Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Tuesday.

“We must have an export control system that can ensure both national security and economic prosperity. Yet, while we currently have one of the world’s most stringent export control systems – it’s not necessarily the world’s most effective and efficient,” Locke told an audience of more than 1,000 at the Bureau of Industry and Security’s annual export controls update conference.

The administration is streamlining the U.S. Munitions List administered by the State Department and the BIS Commerce Control List, Locke said. Before the two are merged into a single list, the government will create “bright lines” between them to give exporters a clear picture of which agency controls the licensing of a particular product.

By The Numbers: U.S. Trade.

Commerce officials said Tuesday they expect to complete the merger by the end of 2011. While the administration is taking the steps it can, it must turn to Congress for legislating major changes, Locke said, such as the creation of a single agency to administer the export control list or the transfer of enforcement to U.S. Customs and Immigration.

“It is important to ensure that our licensing criteria are based on objective technical parameters that take into account the strategic nature of an item and whether or not the item is available from non-U.S. suppliers,” Locke said. He said that U.S. export restrictions already are putting U.S. technology companies at a competitive disadvantage in the world marketplace.

-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.