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Raimondo Stresses Export Control Enforcement, Proposes More BIS Staffing, Resources

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she plans to heavily enforce Entity List restrictions and more aggressively tackle the agency's emerging and foundational technology export control mandate. And although the agency’s review of China policies is ongoing (see 2101250049), she again stressed that Commerce doesn’t plan to remove export restrictions from Huawei and is looking for more companies to add to the Entity List.

“We're not joking around,” Raimondo told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies May 6. “We are going to enforce the requirements, and we're going to do that to the fullest extent possible.”

Raimondo, who was testifying on Commerce’s 2022 budget request, said the agency plans to add more staff and resources to the Bureau of Industry and Security so BIS can more efficiently “analyze” export control and Entity List proposals and implement those restrictions. “The president's budget calls for increased funding for BIS and [the International Trade Administration],” she said. “Some of that will be used for more aggressive and comprehensive efforts in BIS around export controls.”

Several lawmakers urged Raimondo to remain tough on China, speed up Commerce’s review of China policies, and more quickly identify emerging and foundational technologies under the Export Control Reform Act. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., said BIS’s efforts to control those technologies “are woefully insufficient and risk turning into a hollow exercise,” which could allow China to access sensitive U.S. technologies. Congress is mulling whether BIS is the right agency to lead the effort (see 2104070026).

Raimondo said the agency is “in the process” of identifying those technologies. “It's a priority of ours. I've been here for seven weeks, and we've already issued subpoenas against Chinese companies to enforce our export controls,” she said, referencing subpoenas served against Chinese companies that provide information and communications technology and services in the U.S. “We will continue to do that.”

Rep. Ben Cline, R-Va., urged Commerce to speed up its China review. “It was over a month ago you said that reviews were ongoing, and I just want to figure out when those are going to conclude,” he said. “Hopefully we can see that aggressive stance toward China renewed here in the immediate future.”

Raimondo said she expects the review to continue at least into “later on this spring, early summer,” and stressed the agency is taking an aggressive stance toward China. “We aren't stopping. In my department I can tell you we are being aggressive,” she said. “We’re keeping these companies on the Entity List and deciding where new companies have to come on.”

She stressed “there's no reason to think” Huawei will be removed from the Entity List. Raimondo received criticism from some lawmakers during her confirmation hearing earlier this year after she declined to explicitly say whether Huawei would remain on the list (see 2101260047 and 2104070039). “We are going through a review to figure out, constantly, what other companies might also find themselves on the Entity List,” she said. “I know that came up in my confirmation and I wanted to clarify that.”

She also emphasized that Commerce is focused on enforcing its export controls by working closely with allies to identify “key” technologies. “We want to identify what is the key technology, the absolute core technology, and its choke points,” she said. “And then work with our allies to make sure that they also aren’t letting China get their hands on this technology, and then work with them on rigorous enforcement.”

Commerce will take a similar approach to the Entity List, she added, and wants allies to adopt many of the same restrictions. “One of my areas of focus would be to work more closely than the last administration with our allies to align around not only policies, but enforcement,” she said. “China has proven over and over again that it's willing to be anticompetitive, coercive, violate human rights, steal our technology and use it against us. And so the first thing you need to know is that we are taking it incredibly seriously, and we're going to be as tough as we need to be.”