International Society of Primerus Law Firms

Export Control Overhaul: Gates Calls for a Focus on the “Crown Jewels” of Defense Technology

Submitted By: The Law Offices of Stewart & Stewart

Washington, DC


Originally appeared in the Washington Update; Volume 2, Issue6 –May 04, 2010

In a recent speech before the Business Executives for National Security, Defense Secretary Gates announced a plan to overhaul the current U.S. export control system. He outlined a three-phase implementation plan under which the existing system of multiple lists of controlled weapons and military-related items, as well as multiple agencies with responsibility for licensing and enforcement, will be streamlined into a single list of controlled technologies and a single licensing agency.

The business community has been calling for export control reform for a number of years, arguing that the Cold War era policies underlying the export control regime are outdated and are detrimental to U.S. exporters. In an effort to rebalance the U.S. export control system, Secretary Gates emphasized the need to focus resources on the most crucial products and technologies that are essential to the U.S. military and that would pose significant threats to U.S. national security if obtained by our adversaries. He referred to these products and technologies as America’s “Crown Jewels.”

There have been some export control reform efforts in the past, although they were largely unsuccessful. Prior efforts were not as extensive, however, as the plan that Secretary Gates recently unveiled. Alan Dunn and Elizabeth Argenti discuss this plan in a new Stewart and Stewart Trade Flow article and review some of the benefits of a streamlined system. They note, however, that there are likely to be significant obstacles to implementation, despite the unprecedented level of support from President Obama and his Administration.

Any significant changes to the export control system are likely to have broad ramifications throughout the business community. Stewart and Stewart closely monitors the developments and can provide insight and advice on how the changes might impact particular exports or industries. Please contact our office if you would like any additional information on the proposed changes to the export control system or would like help in making sure your voice is heard as the streamlining process unfolds.

For more info on The Law Offices of Stewart & Stewart, visit the International Society of Primerus Law Firms or stewartlaw.com.

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