U.S. Says Preparing to Ease High-Tech Export Controls

Restrictions would be lifted on some commonly available high-tech goods and strengthened on sensitive technologies with military uses.

The United States may soon ease restrictions on some high-tech exports to China, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said on May 21 -- a move that Beijing has demanded for years.

"With respect to export control reform [regarding China and other countries], we want to have that done by this summer," Locke said as he pursued a trade mission to China focused on clean-energy cooperation.

"Some of it can be implemented almost immediately, maybe some can be done in a matter of months once there is agreement within the administration on the review."

In 1989 the U.S. implemented a series of export controls on sensitive high technology to China, following Beijing's brutal crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests. Since then, Beijing has loudly campaigned for the lifting of the measure. Earlier this week, Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian said he hoped China would not be excluded in Washington's policy overhaul.

"We hope the United States will treat all countries equally and not discriminate against China in the reform of its export-control system," Yao said. Beijing has long cited the export controls for contributing to China's huge trade surplus with the United States, which reached $226.8 billion last year.

Locke said restrictions would be lifted on some commonly available high-tech goods and strengthened on sensitive technologies with military uses.

"We need to intensify and increase our protection on some very super-sensitive technologies to make sure that they don't get in the hands of those who want to do America harm, especially terrorist organizations," he said. "At the same time, we have restrictions on items already readily available from companies around the rest of the world and our restrictions make no sense."

The export of some sensitive goods may still need U.S. Congressional approval, while others could be exported following an executive order or even via simple administrative rules, he added.

Locke was in Beijing leading the first cabinet-level U.S. trade mission since Obama announced an ambitious target in March to double U.S. exports within five years to promote job growth.

Locke also reiterated in a speech to U.S. businessmen that the U.S. will press China to revise its so-called "indigenous innovation" policies, which Washington says limit foreign firms' access to Chinese markets.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

TAGS: Trade
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