Export Controls:

Assessment of Commerce Department Foreign Policy Reports to Congress

NSIAD-89-190: Published: Sep 13, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 13, 1989.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed: (1) five of the Secretary of Commerce's reports concerning imposing, expanding, or extending foreign policy export controls; and (2) the extent to which Commerce adopted earlier recommendations to improve its reporting to Congress on foreign availability, enforcement, and economic impact.

GAO found that: (1) the reports generally complied with reporting requirements about the control's purpose, probability of achieving its purpose, compatibility with U.S. foreign policy objectives, and foreign availability, other countries' reactions to the control, and alternative means for achieving the stated purpose; (2) although there was widespread foreign availability of certain chemicals and biological agents commonly used for weapons manufacture, one control over U.S. export of those items symbolically conveyed U.S. opposition to weapons proliferation; (3) the reports generally incorporated recommendations for improving discussion of alternative means, economic impact, and enforcement difficulty; (4) the reports did not improve discussion of foreign availability; and (5) Commerce cited the Department of State's failure to timely provide it a list of proposed chemicals for control as the cause of its very limited consultation with the industry before issuing the control.

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