Thursday, February 13, 2014

Export Control Reform Remains on the To-Do List

Accelerate sensible US export control reforms. Export controls are an important part of ensuring the security of the United States. The Obama administration should continue its reform efforts that will ensure US security is not undermined while eliminating unnecessary licensing controls on products no longer a threat to US security. Such reforms will boost US exports and help support and create jobs. The United States should move forward more quickly with modifications of non-controversial items even as more difficult reform vetting continues. Those modifications should include items that can be delisted for countries such as China because they are available on the open market from non-US sources. 

The US-China Business Council recently published a list of priorities for the bilateral commercial relations. This is just the third such publication of priorities in its forty+ years of existence as the most influential business organization related to doing business in and with China. One of those priorities that caught my attention is about the need for US export control reforms as I have excerpted in the preceding paragraph.

The suggestion to "accelerate sensible US export control reforms" has been couched in highly diplomatic language, but if one were to read the passage carefully, one would come to disheartening conclusion that when it comes to Federal bureaucracy and export regulatory red tape on exporting to China nothing much has changed.

In Obama's first term of office (around September 2010), the White House announced the intention to reform the existing export control policy towards China. The announcement admitted that the export control procedure has been too complicated and goods for export to China were over regulated. At the time, the announcement was warmly welcomed by American businesses active in China. It was titillating to imagine that reform was finally on its way.

Since then other than Gary Locke leaving the post of Secretary of Commerce to become the ambassador to China, nothing has come to public's attention to indicate that any serious reform has taken place. The February 11, 2014 posting of the priorities from the Business Council continues to suggest that nothing much gets done in Washington.