Export Controls:

Need To Clarify Policy and Simplify Administration

ID-79-16: Published: Mar 1, 1979. Publicly Released: Mar 1, 1979.

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The Government does not have an effective policymaking structure to reconcile the conflicting goals of export promotion and export control. The decisionmaking apparatus for determining what technology or products should be controlled is unwieldy and time consuming. On top of these problems, the export licensing system is characterized by delay, uncertainty, and lack of accountability. If controls are to be effective, they must be applied by other governments whose firms have similar technologies and products available. However, the Governments associated with the United States in the Export Control Coordinating Committee (COCOM) are disturbed with the slow United States decisionmaking process and what they consider an inflexible United States position on what ought to be controlled.

Steps have been taken to address some of the problems. The Department of Defense is leading an effort to determine what technologies are most critical for control. COCOM member governments request other members to exempt sales from control. The COCOM governments are now negotiating changes to the international control list. Most export control agencies apparently prefer diffusion of management which dilutes accountability among them rather than having one office or agency primarily responsible for properly implementing controls.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should: (1) amend legislation to state that the President shall consider foreign availability when imposing export controls for foreign policy purposes; (2) require that the semiannual report discuss in detail the uses and reasons for foreign policy controls; (3) provide for establishment of a multiagency Export Policy Advisory Committee; and (4) redirect funding of technical evaluations and export license application.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should abolish the Economic Defense Advisory Committee. The Secretary of Commerce should abolish the Advisory Committee on Export Policy structure, direct the Office of Export Administration to consolidate various activities in the licensing division, and reallocate resources to increase the deterrent capabilitiy of the Office of Export Administration's compliance program.

    Agency Affected:


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