Making Export Controls Work for Security and Commerce, Both

By October 2, 2009Technology, Trade

Speaking at the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Update Conference on Export Controls, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke proposed changes to the nation’s export control system, well described in the news release’s headline, “Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Proposes Reforms to America’s Export Controls System to Enhance National Security and Improve Competitiveness“:

WASHINGTON—U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke proposed reforms to modernize America’s export controls system, which will enhance national security and increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies, in a speech at the Bureau of Industry and Security’s Update Conference on Export Controls today. The United States export control system seeks to prevent sensitive items from falling into the hands of those who seek to do us harm.

“Our current system was designed in the 1950s and its Cold-War-era framework is ill-suited to manage the highly complex 21st century threats currently faced by the United States,” Locke said. “We need to fundamentally revise our export control system to account for the emergence of new foreign markets, competitors and multifaceted threats that have arisen over the past few decades.”

The release notes that a U.S. company recently lost two major sales to Italy for predictive maintenance imaging cameras — which is standard, widely available commercial technology — because the U.S. export control system takes too long to deal with. The Japanese got the sale.

Secretary Locke’s remarks are here.

Reuters did a story on the announcement, “US Commerce chief proposes dual-use export reform,” citing the NAM’s Frank Vargo, who calls Locke’s proposals important steps.

Modernizing export controls is one of the NAM’s priority issues, although it doesn’t get all that much media attention. (The issues becomes technical pretty quickly.) In 2007, the NAM helped create the Coalition for Security and Competitiveness to address the issue, and we have posted background information here.

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