WESTERN ALLIES WEIGH 2-TIER EXPORT CONTROLS

WESTERN ALLIES WEIGH 2-TIER EXPORT CONTROLS

Western allies will likely set up a two-tier system that would re-write their restrictions on electronics exports in a way that could freeze out the Soviet Union while giving Eastern European countries access to the latest technology.

Barriers to technology trade with East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania are expected to be be lowered dramatically, while remaining essentially intact for the Soviet Union because of its military strength.Trade experts have recently expressed doubt that such a two-tier approach can work, distinguishing the Soviet Union from East Europe.

The East Bloc has been barred for 40 years from the latest in computer, telecommunications and other electronics equipment by Western nations concerned that the technology would be used for military purposes.

The restrictions are the work of Cocom, the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls, a Paris-based alliance of 17 nations - the NATO members excluding Iceland, plus Japan and Australia.

"The Soviet Union has been able to get its hands on much of this technology for years, even when it was restricted," said Randy Bregman, director of Soviet and East European services for the Washington-based trade consultant Apco Associates.

"A lot of these export controls have more political than practical value," he said. If Hungary or Poland gets certain technology, it won't be long before those products seep through to the Soviet Union, no matter what formal controls exist.

Mr. Bregman said pressure for change would also come from Western manufacturers who see better opportunities in the Soviet Union, a huge nation rich in natural resources, than small, poor and landlocked countries such as Hungary or Czechoslovakia.

Trade experts said prolonging the Cocom ban could cause the Soviet Union short-term difficulties as it tried to modernize its backward industrial infrastructure, particularly its system of telecommunications.