The second policy recommendation from China Tech Threat to help leaders at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) prevent adversaries from acquiring and weaponizing sensitive U.S.-made technologies, will be launched next week.
This recommendation explores a key policy issue for BIS: the process and efficacy to control new and innovative dual use technologies. Major Congressional reforms adopted in 2018 require BIS to take leadership in an interagency process to identify and report on emerging and foundational technologies in foreign countries, to assess what effect export controls imposed on these technologies may have on their development in the United States, and to judge the effectiveness of export controls on limiting the proliferation of emerging and foundational technologies to foreign countries.
BIS’ performance of these tasks has become a matter of controversy and debate, even prompting some observers to suggest that BIS should be moved out of Commerce because it either can’t or won’t fulfill the tasks. Alan Estevez himself noted, during his prepared remarks at his nomination hearing, that “if confirmed, I will lead the dedicated professional staff at BIS to ensure that our export controls prevent the transfer of sensitive U.S. technologies. To do that, I will work to ensure that we are appropriately using all the authorities provided under ECRA. As part of that process, I will ensure that we execute our due diligence in identifying and imposing appropriate controls on those emerging and foundational technologies that need protection.” However, the Acting Director of BIS states that the relevant technologies are already controlled and that it’s impractical to publish such lists.
Keep an eye out for this recommendation and more to come as we move further into 2022.