Export controls: Americaâ€™s other national security threat
Chad Bown ()
No WP20-8, Working Paper Series from Peterson Institute for International Economics
While the public was transfixed by the Trump administrationâ€™s policies alleging that imports were a threat to Americaâ€™s national security during 2017â€“20, there was a concomitant and more quiet US policy shift on the export side. Addressing the national security threat presented by exports posed different economic and institutional challenges from those associated with import policy, including the acknowledgment that export controls for legitimate national security reasons can be the first-best policy to confront the problem at its source. Yet, export controls could also be misused as a beggar-thy-neighbor policy to redistribute economic well-being across countries, even from one ally to another. This paper describes how US export control policy evolved over 2017â€“20, as well as the international institutionsâ€”first the Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (COCOM), then the Wassenaar Arrangementâ€”historically tasked with multilateralizing US export restrictions used to protect national security. With the potential for US export control policy to brush up more frequently against WTO rules designed to limit the use of export restrictions, the paper also highlights new challenges for the WTOâ€™s system of resolving trade disputes. Overall, a US failure to strike the right balance for its export control policy would result in it being ineffective at addressing national security risks, costly for the economy, and problematic for trade and diplomatic relations.
Keywords: national security; export controls; dual-use technologies; ECRA; Wassenaar Arrangement; uncertainty (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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