Rep. Berman introduces new export control reform bill

Berman's bill would seek to control the export of sensitive goods and services based for national security reasons, based on a new definition of U.S. national security that takes U.S. leadership in technology and high-tech manufacturing.

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Over the last several years, this has meant relaxing export controls on high-tech goods that are widely available, so that U.S. manufacturers can profit from overseas markets by selling these goods and use profits for more research and development in order to stay ahead of overseas competition. The Defense Department favors this approach because it ensures a cutting-edge U.S. manufacturing presence that supplies a cutting edge national security infrastructure.

"The U.S. still controls — unilaterally — high performance computers and machine tools that are now freely available in global commerce," Berman said as an example. "We need to re-focus our licensing and enforcement resources on items that we can control effectively."

Efforts to pass a new export control regime in Congress have been famously unsuccessful, as it usually splits members into two groups — those who want to ease export controls, and those who want to tighten them further.