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BIS ‘Absolutely’ Wants to Build on Coordinated Export Controls, Official Says

The Bureau of Industry and Security is looking to build on its ability to impose multilateral export controls, said senior BIS official Thea Kendler. Kendler, speaking during a conference last week hosted by the American Association of Exporters and Importers, said the agency wants to capitalize on the highly-coordinated Russia controls to better align future restrictions with a “core group of countries,” echoing comments made by Commerce officials earlier this year who voiced support for a new multilateral export control regime.

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“We have various groupings of very similar countries that are our most trusted partners,” said Kendler, BIS’s assistant secretary for export administration. “I absolutely want to take that and build on it.” She specifically referenced the G-7 member states along with Country Groups A:5 and A:6 in the Export Administration Regulations, which include Canada, Australia, the U.K. and other close allies.

BIS Undersecretary Alan Estevez has been outspoken about the agency’s desire for a new multilateral export control regime, calling it one of his top priorities (see 2206140060 and 2205250037). A new regime also has received support from Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and export control experts (see 2205170034, 2205240039 and 2206100021).

Although Kendler didn’t specifically mention a new regime, she said she would “very much like” to leverage the current coordination of Russia export controls. “I can't announce a specific area here now, but I think you will see more work with those core countries as we try to make things in the export controls world more standardized,” she said. “That's our goal.”

She also gave due diligence advice for companies looking to comply with Russia export controls, saying businesses should be wary of duplicate requests from different customers, especially if the first request was rejected. “If one customer asks for something, and you say no or you cut them off, and then someone else comes in for the exact same transaction,” Kendler said, “that's the number-one red flag I would highlight.”

She also said companies should scrutinize IP addresses associated with purchase requests, which may help them determine the ultimate destination of the item. “The money may be routed from somewhere else,” Kendler said, “but in my experience, the original request for information or the original quote request is coming from the IP address that the product may actually be going to.”

BIS is “here to help,” she stressed, adding that companies should bring any questionable requests or transactions to the Office of Export Enforcement. “We can help you screen transactions if you have concerns about them,” she said. “So please don't hesitate to ask.”

She also said BIS is focused on completing its long-awaited routed export rule, which is expected to include major changes to the process around assigning filing responsibilities to forwarders and address information sharing among parties in routed export transactions. The rule has faced several delays as BIS has put in place political leadership and has been swamped with Russia-related export control work (see 2206150033 and 2203160018).

Kendler said BIS, which is working with the Census Bureau on the rule, is thinking about how to harmonize definitions between the EAR and Census’ Foreign Trade Regulations. “I'm not here to identify major announcements on how we’re going to change this,” Kendler said. “But the message I want to leave you is that we’re paying attention to these issues. We're focused on the details of how transactions occur in reality, and we want to take into account your perspectives on this issue so that we get it right.”