Export Controls and the Evolution of their National Security and Foreign Policy Objectives  and the Implications for US-China and US-Russia Policy

Export controls are the rules that govern the transfer of commercial and military items and services to accomplish national security and foreign policy objectives.  This once relatively stable and largely unknown non-proliferation-focused policy tool is now near the center of the geopolitical universe.  It is almost daily at the top of press coverage, particularly with respect to US-China issues and the allied response to Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.  The global semiconductor and other critical technology industries now need to factor in compliance obligations and policy issues that they have traditionally never had to consider.   In this module, you will learn how the national security and foreign policy objectives of these rules have evolved since the Cold War and what the current policy debate is really about.  The module will also demystify export controls for non-lawyers. This will allow the participants to fully understand the legal, political, economic, and policy levers and trade-offs inherent in any discussion of export control policy -- regardless of whether one is a hawk, dove, or an owl.   The module will conclude with an examination of all the options available for using export controls to address contemporary national security and foreign policy issues, particularly with respect when controls should be unilateral, plurilateral, or multilateral.  

Meet Your Expert

Kevin Wolf
Kevin Wolf is a partner in Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and a non-Resident Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET).  Mr. Wolf was the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration in the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the Department of Commerce for both terms of the Obama Administration. In this role, he lead the administration of the export control, licensing, and other functions of BIS, was one of the primary architect of the Export Control Reform initiative and was a Commerce Department representative to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).
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Who Will Benefit from a Deep Dive into Export Control Policy

Officials in government and international organizations

Government officials and staff whose work involves (i) classical non-proliferation or arms control issues; (ii) China- or Russia-specific policy issues; (iii) foreign adversary access to emerging commercial and emerging technologies; (iii) international economic security and investment policy; (iv) human rights issues; and (v) multilateral engagement with close allies.

Private sector public policy or government affairs teams

 Those responsible for tracking and providing internal policy advice on broader geo-political trends, particularly with respect to China- and Russia-specific trade and supply chain issues.   Will be of specific interest to companies involved in, or advising on, trade and investment issues pertaining to emerging technologies, particularly those involving semiconductors, AI, quantum computing, advanced computing, and biotech.

Non-government organizations and non-profits

  Those involved in developing and advocating policy solutions involving foreign policy, human rights issues, national security, international economic security, US-China and US-Russia relations generally, and allied country cooperation.

Here is what you will learn

Understand the historical, policy and legal context

The deep dive will put the current, lively discussion of what export control policy should and should not be in a historical, policy, and legal context.  You will learn about the evolution of export control policy thinking from the Cold War until today, the perspectives of decision-makers and stakeholders, the technologies involved, and the inherent policy and economic trade-offs.  The course is ultimately an analysis of past and contemporary thinking about the evolving nature of what the national security and foreign policy objectives are for controls on the sharing of technology -- and the issues involved in making controls both effective and not counterproductive.

 Understand export controls in plain language 

 Most export control courses are for lawyers or in-house compliance personnel. They are, thus, quite complex and arcane.   This deep dive will explain export controls and how they work in plain English and without compliance program jargon or legalize. 

 Understand the role, history, and significance of multilateral coordination

The past and current export control policy debate are all significantly affected by the degree to which allies and other partner countries do and do not cooperate. The course will describe the evolution of the multilateral regime system, the policy thinking of allies and other countries, and the decisions the US has made to go it alone from time to time.  The course will examine all the options and limitations for the next phase of multilateral cooperation to address contemporary national security and foreign policy issues, particularly with respect to China and Russia.