Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

11/27/2019 | Press release | Archived content

Inside U.S. Trade Quotes Kevin Wolf on Commerce Department’s First Emerging Tech Export Control

Kevin Wolf, a partner in the international trade practice at Akin Gump, has been quoted in the Inside U.S. Trade article 'Commerce forging first emerging tech export control as Congress grows impatient.' The article reports on a move by the Department of Commerce to push ahead with a first-of-its kind emerging technology regulation-a key component of the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) that was enacted last year.

While some members of Congress say the Commerce Department has been slow to complete several export-control reviews mandated by the law, Wolf said whether an extraordinarily high bar is being used for controlling emerging technologies depends on one's definition of national security. He pointed out that ECRA was intended only to require export controls on technologies not widely available outside the United States-a high bar on its own, since many technologies are developed collaboratively regardless of national borders.

Commerce has set a higher bar for unilateral export controls on emerging technologies, Wolf pointed out, because they are less effective than multilateral controls. So-called 'foundational' technologies, meanwhile, present an even more complex issue, he added, because the core technologies subject to control in that category already exist. Wolf suggested that Commerce instead first define a foundational technology in such a way that its scope does not apply to technology already widely available. It must then determine which technologies under that umbrella are essential to national security. Wolf thinks the Commerce Department could be aiming to issue proposed regulations on foundational technologies by mid-February.