US semiconductor association calls for international cooperation on export controls

The US Semiconductor Industry Association (‘SIA’) has produced what it calls a ‘ground-breaking assessment of international export control authorities across ten key countries and regions with significant semiconductor industries,’ which it intends to serve ‘as a resource for stakeholders navigating the challenging but important approach of consensus-building on multilateral export controls.’

The document was produced in response to the US Department of Commerce’s request for information, in parallel with the European Union’s consultation on Areas and Priorities for U.S. and EU Export Control Cooperation under the TTC Export Control Working Group (‘ECWG’).

The SIA says that it ‘shares the Commerce Department’s goal of leveraging the ECWG to “enhance international security and the protection of human rights, and support a global level-playing field and joint technology development and innovation,”’ and recommends five areas of focus:

  1. Harmonisation and alignment of licence exceptions and general authorisations;
  2. Alignment and clarification of authorities and common strategic-level policy objectives;
  3. Harmonisation of regulatory structures, definitions, and policies;
  4. Harmonisation and alignment across human rights controls and policies;
  5. Additional items that support the overall convergence of US-EU export controls.

It said: ‘Fully multilateral solutions to export control are the ideal solution to ensure that policy objectives are met effectively while preserving a level-playing field. However, it is often difficult to achieve consensus in large multilateral regimes, which has spurred discussions on a new approach to find consensus among smaller groupings of countries. To succeed, consensus-based approaches must navigate unavoidable differences between countries’ commercial, economic, national security and foreign policy concerns, as well as their export control laws and policies.’

In the assessment, the SIA points out that US export control authorities ‘generally allow greater national discretion to create and impose controls outside of the scope of the multilateral export control regimes than is provided under foreign partner domestic authorities,’ and that non-US unilateral control authorities, by contrast, are much more limited.

‘For example, they do not generally allow for the use of export controls to address issues specific to countries of concern that are not subject to comprehensive economic embargoes (e.g., Iran and North Korea) that are not directly related to weapons of mass destruction or conventional military items. In addition, none has the flexibility to create general end-user and end-use controls on exports of unlisted items for reasons unrelated to proliferation concerns,’ it says.