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Congress May Want to Reassess Export Control Approach, CRS Says

Congress may want to consider modifying U.S. export control regulations given the changing assumptions about the pace of technological development and the obstacles that presents for government agencies, the Congressional Research Service said in a report this month. The 40-page report suggests the U.S. may seek to review the Export Control Reform Act, which was drafted with “embedded assumptions about the pace of technological development” that may no longer be true, the report said.

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CRS said some experts and policymakers argue that technological development has continued to evolve at a “rapid pace,” while others argue the pace of innovation has slowed. “Congress could use its legislative powers or oversight role to examine assumptions about the pace of technological development embedded in ECRA, assess whether they remain valid, and consider whether to support, seek to modify, or challenge the administration’s new approach to using export controls to maintain U.S. technological supremacy,” the report said.

CRS specifically pointed to multilateral export control regimes and arguments that some, including the Wassenaar Arrangement, can no longer keep up with the pace of innovation (see 2302080034, 2211210005 and 2205240039). Current and former U.S. officials have voiced support for a new multilateral regime (see 2206290032 and 2302080034), and the report said lawmakers may look to “assess, or require the administration to assess, how the creation of a fifth regime might affect the U.S. economy, including the actual costs imposed by the regime on U.S. firms and the regime’s potential impact on U.S. innovation.”

The report covers a host of other export control issues and how the U.S. should think about coordinating those controls with allies, including restrictions against China and Russia.