Original Press Release
NAM President John Engler Tells House Committee Obsolete Export Control System Must Be Revamped
Press release date: July 9, 2009
Calls Current System "Relic of the Cold War"
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 9, 2009 - National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President John Engler today told a House subcommittee that the nation's export control system is "a relic of the Cold War" that needs a "total revamping."
Testifying before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, Engler said the present export control system, developed six decades ago to address threats the nation faced during the Cold War, "is hampering our ability to innovate and to compete in world markets by maintaining too many policies and practices that are outmoded - and that contribute little to national security."
Engler said national security must be paramount, "but national security, our economic security and American jobs are being impaired by obsolete export control policies that control too much, are too costly and are promoting the growth of technologies in other countries rather than here in the U.S."
Engler pointed out that when the current system was developed, the U.S. was the source of almost all cutting-edge technologies and could unilaterally deny foreign access to them. "Those days are gone," Engler said. "While the U.S. is still a leader in technology, many other nations have developed equally good - or better - technologies. The question of foreign availability was a rare one when the export system was first developed, but now it is one of the dominant facts of world commerce."
Engler said the U.S. share of world exports has been falling steadily at least in part because this country's major strength lies in advanced technologies, which are most vulnerable to the antiquated export controls system. "The present system restricts too many technologies, is costly and creates delays and uncertainties for foreign customers. In fact, it is fairly common to see U.S. competitors advertising that their products are totally free of U.S. components and U.S. export controls."
Engler said the existing system is at odds with the way business today develops new cutting-edge technologies. "U.S. companies collaborating on new technologies with their wholly-owned foreign subsidiaries may be required first to obtain an export license even to send an e-mail, provide information over the telephone, or transfer a product across the Atlantic to its facility in another NATO country. These delays and uncertainties create a significant commercial disadvantage."
The findings of numerous reports and statements from national security experts issued over the last few years all conclude that the current system is hindering, not enabling, the ability of the government to safeguard critical technologies and protect national security, Engler said. "The NAM is committed to a sustained effort to modernize the export control system so that it is effective in preserving national security and our ability to compete globally."
In his testimony, Engler offered specific recommendations for rewriting the legislation to meet the nation's current security and competitiveness objectives. Engler's full testimony can be found here: http://www.nam.org/exportcontrols.
The National Association of Manufacturers is the nation's largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the NAM has 11 additional offices across the country. Visit the NAM's web site at www.nam.org for more information about manufacturing and the economy.
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