The Coalition for Security and Competitiveness

Eight Associations Urge President Bush to Implement Modern Export Control System to Enhance U.S. Security, Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 6, 2007 – Eight leading associations representing business, manufacturing, aerospace and technology today said they have formed a coalition urging President Bush to enhance America’s national security, economic strength, and technological leadership by implementing a modern U.S. export control system that is more efficient, predictable and transparent.

The Aerospace Industries Association, Association for Manufacturing Technology, Coalition for Employment through Exports, Electronic Industries Alliance, Information Technology Industry Council, National Association of Manufacturers, National Foreign Trade Council and U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced formation of the Coalition for Security and Competitiveness and jointly signed a letter sent to President Bush calling for administrative changes that can be implemented within current law to significantly improve the performance of the U.S. Government’s export control system.

“We strongly believe that export control modernization is needed and that the opportunity is now,” the coalition member associations stated in their letter sent today to President Bush.

“We must continue to protect our sensitive military technologies from our adversaries and rivals, while also maximizing the benefits of trade and technology cooperation with our allies and friends,” the letter continued. “It is essential that our system of controlling U.S. technology exports is modernized in a way that enhances our ability to counter rapidly and decisively evolving threats, and to maintain our global technological leadership and industrial competitiveness.”

The letter added that, “The Coalition is committed to working closely and cooperatively with the Administration and the Congress to provide a more efficient, predictable and transparent export control system that supports national security and competitiveness.”

The Coalition seeks an improved export control system that:

The current system regulating the export of defense and “dual-use” items (i.e., those with both civil and military application) is administered by the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce, respectively, but often involves other federal agencies. The Commerce Department processes more than 18,000 authorizations per year. The State Department processes more than 65,000 licenses each year, a figure that has been increasing about 8 percent annually. Some cases take months to process, causing a detrimental impact on allies, trading partners, and exporters in general. Last year, the State Department had a 10,000-case backlog that is still being whittled down.

Among the coalition’s recommendations to improve the current system, while maintaining effective controls on sensitive items, are hiring additional licensing and agreements officers to ease processing delays and developing new types of authorizations for exports.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said these proposed steps would go a long way toward keeping America secure and prosperous.

“Technological leadership provides enormous benefits for our national security and our economy,” Donohue said. “The country needs a more modern export control system to maintain the nation’s edge in the global marketplace, and we look forward to working with the Administration to achieve that goal.”

NAM President and CEO John Engler agreed that the recommended changes would have wide-ranging benefits.

“Security and competitiveness go hand in hand,” Engler said. “A strong, innovative industrial base not only helps us maintain the best military in the world but also keeps our economy growing and supports U.S. global leadership. The international marketplace is changing rapidly with new competitors emerging in both developed and transitioning economies. We need a modern export control system that recognizes this new environment and enables U.S. companies to compete and continue their technological leadership.”

AIA President and CEO John Douglass said modernizing the export control system will boost U.S. national security and enhance our diplomacy.

“Making these improvements will increase our ability to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and friends around the world,” Douglass said. “Past experience has made it clear that multilateral operations enhance success, and military interoperability is vital to this endeavor. Improved defense trade and technology cooperation also helps ensure our brave men and women in uniform have the best weapons and equipment available to do their job. It is hard to overstate how important this is to our nation.”

EIA Interim President and CEO Charlie Robinson said the regulatory process must catch up with industrial advances.

“We measure modern technology in nanoseconds, but it often takes two months or more to complete this regulatory process,” Robinson said. “Federal officials are making strides to bridge that gap, but we must do better. We need an export control policy that puts security first, while helping our allies abroad win and our companies at home compete. These changes can make America a more secure, prosperous nation.”

National Foreign Trade Council President Bill Reinsch said a more efficient and transparent process would make the country more secure and more competitive.

“The Coalition’s reform program will create a system fit for the 21st century – one that is more efficient and transparent for business and one which is focused on controlling the things that really affect our security,” Reinsch said. “If the Administration adopts our reforms, the country will be safer and our high tech industries healthier, which, in turn, will enable us to continue to run faster than our competitors.”

Information Technology Industry Council President Rhett Dawson said the Coalition’s proposed modernization reforms would increase U.S. companies’ competitiveness.

“The technological leadership of U.S. companies underpins the economic and military strength of America,” Dawson said. “We need to improve our export control system to reflect the global nature of innovation and security and to enable American businesses to remain competitive in the world economy. The modernization initiatives proposed by the coalition are a much-needed step in the right
direction.”

For additional information, please visit the coalition’s web site address at www.securityandcompetitiveness.org.