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Export Controls: A Better Way

By | Regulations, Technology, Trade | No Comments

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s speech on export controls Tuesday did an excellent job in clearly laying out the Cold War roots of our complicated approval system and explaining it present-day consequences.

[A] major obstacle we face is the bureaucratic apparatus that has grown up around export control – a byzantine amalgam of authorities, roles, and missions scattered around different parts of the federal government. In theory, this provides checks and balances – the idea being that security concerns, customarily represented by DoD, would check economic interests represented by the Commerce Department and balance out diplomatic and relationship-building equities represented by State. In reality, this diffusion of authority – where separate export-control lists are maintained by different agencies – results in confusion about jurisdiction and approval, on the part of companies and government officials alike. 

The upshot of which is:

The system has the effect of discouraging exporters from approaching the process as intended. Multinational companies can move production offshore, eroding our defense industrial base, undermining our control regimes in the process, and not to mention losing American jobs. Some European satellite manufacturers even market their products as being not subject to U.S. export controls, thus drawing overseas not only potential customers, but some of the best scientists and engineers as well.  At the same time, onerous and complicated restrictions too often fail to prevent weapons and technologies from going places they shouldn’t. They only incentivize more creative circumvention strategies – on the part of foreign companies, as well as countries that do not have our best interests at heart. 

Secretary Gates: Sustain Colombia’s Freedom Through Trade

By | Trade | No Comments

In Bogota Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates offered strong words of praise for Colombia’s successful fight against narcotraffickers and leftist guerilla warfare, praising the country “becoming a lynchpin of security and prosperity in South America.”

Secretary Gates made the remarks in a news conference with Defense Minister Gabriel Silva Luján. He also met with Colombia President Alvaro Uribe.

The American Forces Press Service reported:

The secretary said his talks here also extended to the importance of a getting a free trade agreement ratified, noting that he talked with National Security Advisor James L. Jones Jr. before his trip here about renewing that effort. Gates referenced an op-ed piece he co-wrote with former Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos in July 2008 pressing for movement on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement and said his views haven’t changed.

“It’s a good deal for Colombia, and it’s a good deal for the United States,” he said.

In his op-ed, the secretary lauded tremendous gains Colombia had made against its internal threats and called economic progress essential for these gains to stick.

“Colombia’s hard-won freedom from violence can be sustained only through economic prosperity,” he wrote.

Gates said a trade promotion agreement would establish a commitment to open markets that would increase this essential growth and investment in Colombia.

“To achieve lasting peace and stability, Colombia must have more foreign investment and free trade,” Gates wrote.

Enactment of the U.S. Colombia Free Trade Agreement, as well as negotiated trade deals with Panama and Korea, is also critical for meeting the President’s goal of doubling exports over the next five years.

Also, Associated Press, “Gates Makes Pitch For US-Colombia Trade Pact