What is Export Control Reform?

In August 2009, President Obama initiated a broad interagency review of the U.S. export control system. The stated goal of the review was strengthening national security and the competitiveness of key U.S. manufacturing and technology sectors by focusing on current threats, as well as adapting to the changing economic and technological landscape. This review determined that the current export control system is overly complicated, contains too many redundancies, and, in trying to protect too much, diminishes our ability to focus our efforts on the most critical national security priorities.

Based on the results of that review, the White House launched the Export Control Reform Initiative (ECR Initiative) with the intention of fundamentally reforming the U.S. export control system. The ECR Initiative (which is not related to the President’s National Export Initiative) is designed to simplify the U.S. export control system while enhancing U.S. national security and strengthening the United States’ ability to counter threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The ECR Initiative will implement reform in three phases. Phases I and II reconcile various definitions, regulations, and policies for export controls. Phase III will create a single control list, single licensing agency, unified information technology system, and enforcement coordination center.

On October 15, 2013, the first final export control list rules implementing Export Control Reform took effect. These rules include both structural changes as well as revisions to USML Categories VIII (Aircraft) and XIX (Gas Turbine Engines) that transition many less sensitive items from the State Department’s International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to the Commerce Department’s Export Administration Regulations (EAR). USML Categories XVII (Classified Defense Articles) and XXI (Miscellaneous Articles) are also included in the final rules. Please see the recently released White House Fact Sheet and 
State Department Media Note for more information.