Obama Fleshes Out Plan to Revamp Export Controls

Reuters

The White House on Thursday fleshed out its plan to revamp U.S. export controls on defense and high-tech goods, reforms that are expected to ease trade restrictions on items that are less security-sensitive.

Obama, who is hoping to double U.S. exports within five years to help boost the economy, is meeting his "export council" of advisers on Thursday, the White House said.

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There he will announce his administration is seeking comment from industry about draft rules establishing new criteria for which products are subject to export controls.

Rules spelling out what licensing policies would apply to specific products will also be announced.

The measures are in response to frustration among U.S. defense and high-tech companies, which say export controls that date to the Cold War cost them billions of dollars in lost sales.

U.S. allies also complain they often face long waits to get spare parts for U.S.-made weapons systems because of licensing requirements as rigorous as those for the weapons themselves.

"All of these rules are being put out for public comment, and we expect and invite comment from industry and other experts so that we can refine the list, refine the procedures," a senior Obama administration official told reporters.

"This represents a new approach to export reform."

Big U.S. defense manufacturers such as Boeing, Honeywell and United Technologies are expected to benefit from the reforms, much of which the administration can implement without approval from Congress.

The official said Wednesday's announcement was a first step toward applying the principle of building "higher walls around a smaller yard" -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates' description of the export controls reform.

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