Monday, June 18, 2007

Tightening the Rules on China Exports

The administration has adopted a final rule for export of items that may contribute to China's military buildup. According to the Financial Times, this represents a 'narrower expansion' of the licensing regime than was proposed in overly-broad early drafts:

The US has tightened restrictions on exports of technology to China in a move aimed at curtailing Beijing’s military modernisation.

The Bush administration has posted on its website its “China Policy Rule”, which would expand the number of military end-use items for which US companies would need licences to export to China. Some industry groups and trade lawyers argue the rule is counter-productive. They say new procedures are very cumbersome and add that the expanded restrictions will hurt US industry by prompting China to buy an increasing number of technologies from Europe.

Any expansion is likely to have the effect of encouraging firms to do business abroad if possible, to avoid a cumbersome regime that other nations do not use.

Update: I note that Business Week presents a better summary of how this will work, including the 'validated end user' concept, which basically involves firms and entities presumed to be 'safe' for export, unless otherwise demonstrated:

Items that will be subject to the new military end-use controls include aircraft and aircraft engines, avionics and inertial navigation systems, lasers, depleted uranium, underwater cameras and propulsion systems, certain composite materials and some telecommunications equipment that can be used for space communications and air defense systems.

A Commerce statement said that the list was developed with input from experts at the departments of Commerce, Defense and State and was designed to target militarily useful items that are not widely available on world markets. U.S. export controls are administered by Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security.

The new validated end-user program will facilitate sales of U.S.-made products to trusted customers in such areas as electronics, semiconductor equipment and chemicals.

This tighter regime for export to China is the sort of thing that might give many conservatives 'warm fuzzies' toward the Bush administration. How fitting that they seem completely unaware of it. Yet another area where the White House has fallen down on their relations with the base.

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