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July 22, 2009 

Commerce Secretary Says Reviewing U.S. Export Controls is One of His Top Five Priorities

In a speech presented this evening to the Washington International Trade Association, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that "undertaking a review of export controls" is one of his top five priorities and that he has already instructed the Bureau of Industry and Security to initiate a review of the entire U.S. export control system.

Below is the export controls portion of Secretary Locke's speech. The full text of the speech, including the list of his other four priorities, can be found here.

Yet another area where red tape is challenging American businesses, and American security, is our export control regime.

Earlier this year, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, chaired a distinguish panel* to look into this issue, and he flatly declared:

“The national security controls on science and technology are broken.”

The panel concluded that our Cold War era export control system has constrained both U.S. commercial and military capabilities from expanding into new fields and from applying new scientific developments.

Our export control system must adapt to America's changing security needs without inhibiting the competitiveness of U.S. companies and institutions. That competitiveness is critical to our economic and national security.

Commerce has already begun to implement programs that will reduce the export licensing burden on U.S. companies. For example, earlier this year, I announced the first Validated End User in India. The VEU program was designed to facilitate high technology trade in India and China by enabling certain items to be transferred without an individual export licenses. But much more needs to be done.

I have instructed Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security to initiate a review of the entire export control system. The review will focus on improving the system by targeting our controls at those state and non-state actors who would seek to do us harm, while ensuring that the traditional control lists keep pace with technological developments.
*The panel referred to produced the National Academies' January 2009 report on export controls entitled Beyond 'Fortress America: National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World.

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