United States: Export Control Reform Act (ECRA)

22-11-2019

Against the backdrop of the growing relevance of certain new technologies for security and defence, the United States of America introduced the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) in 2018. The Act aims to restrict the export of emerging and foundational technologies that can potentially be used for civilian and military purposes ('dual use technologies') and that have not been subject to export control in the past. The adoption of the Act coincides with growing concerns about China's access to critical new technologies. The first set of controls, targeting various 'emerging technologies' that China has stated a desire to develop, will take effect in 2020. Controls on 'foundational technologies' should come later, although specific details about which technologies will be included in this category are not yet available. Functionally, ECRA represents a modification of the existing US Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Under the EAR, the Bureau of Industry and Security assigns an Export Control Classification Number to each technology, which determines the specific restrictions that apply to it. There has been significant debate around ECRA in the USA. Industry leaders have expressed concern about their level of input in the process and have urged the government to clarify its definitions of emerging and foundational technologies. Overall, stakeholders emphasise that aspirations to safeguard national security must be balanced with support for economic growth and innovation. The timing of ECRA coincides with the review of dual-use export controls in the European Union (EU). There have been calls for increased dialogue with the USA and other crucial partners on export control, as well as for a coordinated EU response to ECRA.

Against the backdrop of the growing relevance of certain new technologies for security and defence, the United States of America introduced the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) in 2018. The Act aims to restrict the export of emerging and foundational technologies that can potentially be used for civilian and military purposes ('dual use technologies') and that have not been subject to export control in the past. The adoption of the Act coincides with growing concerns about China's access to critical new technologies. The first set of controls, targeting various 'emerging technologies' that China has stated a desire to develop, will take effect in 2020. Controls on 'foundational technologies' should come later, although specific details about which technologies will be included in this category are not yet available. Functionally, ECRA represents a modification of the existing US Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Under the EAR, the Bureau of Industry and Security assigns an Export Control Classification Number to each technology, which determines the specific restrictions that apply to it. There has been significant debate around ECRA in the USA. Industry leaders have expressed concern about their level of input in the process and have urged the government to clarify its definitions of emerging and foundational technologies. Overall, stakeholders emphasise that aspirations to safeguard national security must be balanced with support for economic growth and innovation. The timing of ECRA coincides with the review of dual-use export controls in the European Union (EU). There have been calls for increased dialogue with the USA and other crucial partners on export control, as well as for a coordinated EU response to ECRA.