Thank you, Matt, for that warm introduction. I'd like to thank you, and especially Eileen Albanese and the staff of the Office of Exporter Services, for all the hard work you have put into this Update Conference. You all deserve a big round of applause.
I'd also like to thank Ted Kassinger, Ken Juster, Peter Lichtenbaum, Julie Myers, Roman Sloniewsky, and all of the many participants who have made these past two days time well spent.
But a Conference is a two-way street, so I'd also like to congratulate all of you, from business and government, who have made the time to come here, to participate and learn, to network, and to make this event a real exchange of information and ideas. And let me add my special welcome to our guests from the governments of some 15 of our most important trading partners. Together, you have made this Conference possible. That's only fitting, for as I have observed this Conference – my first as a member of the BIS team – I have been struck by the emerging theme of “possibilities.”
Because we manage a system of controls, BIS has sometimes been called “the Bureau that says ‘no'” to trade. I think, after the past two days, it should be clear why that is a bum rap. Far from being “the Bureau that says ‘no,'” BIS is in fact “the Bureau that makes ‘yes' possible.”
As we all know, for the most sensitive items with dual-use potential, the choice we all face is not between trade in them with controls, or trade in them without controls. It is in fact a choice between trade in these items with controls or no trade in them at all. So, by running a fair, efficient, and effective system of dual-use export controls, we in BIS make “yes” possible.
There was a time, beginning around 15 years ago, when people around the world thought this situation might be changing and that export controls would go the way of the Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall – many of us remember where we were in November 1989 when that sinister icon of separation came tumbling down. I was serving in the American Consulate General in Jerusalem , and we took great inspiration from that demonstration of the power of popular will in removing walls both literal and figurative. There was a palpable feeling of a world that was entering a new era of peace, prosperity, and freedom for all, a time in which we could drop our guard and live free from all fear.
Sadly, we have learned that the world remains a dangerous place. The fact is that the role of export controls today is more important than ever. That means that our task of making the dual-use export control system work to facilitate legitimate trade, while ensuring that these items do not fall into the hands of those who would do us harm, is also more important than ever.
For two days, you have heard how we in BIS have gone about that important task over the past year. I think you'll agree that, with your support, we have accomplished a great deal.
Now, as this Conference comes to an end, I'd like to look ahead with some thoughts about how to make the system even better in the year to come.
U.S. dual-use export controls comprise a single, holistic system. This system derives its power from all of its pieces working together harmoniously. From setting policy to writing regulations turning policies into guidance for exporters, from processing licenses based on those regulations to enforcing them, from reaching out to American exporters to working with partner governments around the world, the export control system is a chain linking security to trade. It is only as strong as its weakest link, and our goal is to make each link stronger every year.
Start with policy. The knowledge revolution is in full flower – thanks to many of the companies represented here today – and we must keep pace. So we will step up our efforts with industry and within the multilateral regimes to develop new technology and software thresholds for high-performance computers and microprocessors, and we will pursue our development of a new computing power metric to apply to knowledge, software, and hardware.
We will also continue refining our approach to non-proliferation policy. Last February, President Bush announced “seven proposals to strengthen the world's efforts to stop the spread of deadly weapons.” In the coming year, we will work with our partners in the Nuclear Suppliers Group to negotiate changes to the NSG Guidelines that will help implement the President's program by tightening transfers of dual-use nuclear items and suspending cooperation with states in non-compliance with their International Atomic Energy Agency commitments.
But we will not stop there. We will also accelerate our efforts to make controls on other dual-use items more effective. At Wassenaar, for example, we will engage with our partners in an effort to improve controls on night vision equipment, agree to consult before licensing items that another member has denied, and advance anti-terrorism initiatives to help ensure a level playing field for U.S. exporters consistent with U.S. security needs.
Policy is pure theory without regulations. Over the past year, we have made real progress in reducing the time it takes to turn policy into regulations. We will do even better in 2005.
For example, we have set our sights on publishing priority regulations arising from the NSG, Wassenaar, and the other two multilateral regimes within three months of agreement. So if we succeed in our policy priorities, you will see them translated more quickly into action on liberalizations and clearer guidance on enhancements to regime lists.
These regs will articulate revised licensing policies and guide our licensing decisions. Given the increasing numbers of license applications and other licensing duties, such as licensing determinations and commodity classifications, we will have to implement streamlined procedures and clearer guidelines for key parts of the licensing process. As night vision continues to burgeon, we will also look for ways to improve our efficiency for processing these licenses. We have some ideas which we will develop over the coming months.
And, of course, we need to continue our progress on making the deemed export licensing process work in a way that supports research without compromising our security.
I'd like to end the story here. But it would not be in our interests to do so, nor would it be in yours. Without enforcement, the system breaks down, and if the system breaks down, we can't say “yes.” So, in the year to come, we will continue to tighten our focus so as to investigate and prosecute the most significant cases across the entire supply chain. We must make sure that violators are punished and threats are managed so that the vast majority of honest companies have the chance to prosper. Crime must not be a competitive advantage.
All of these steps to bolster the system are important, but we cannot fall into the trap of being insular. We have been harshly reminded over the past several years that our security borders extend well beyond our national borders. Our security, and with it the need for export controls, extends to wherever a controlled item is bought, sold, traded, or used.
This is not a situation that applies to the United States alone, but one we share with nearly every country on the planet. Indeed, the presence of so many of our trading partners here at this Conference testifies to the fact that, when it comes to the need to keep sensitive items out of dangerous hands, while still fostering legitimate trade, we are indeed all on this globe together.
That was the spirit behind our successful efforts in 2004 to strengthen cooperation with India and China , efforts we will build upon in 2005.
And that is the spirit behind our commitment to continue our programs to improve export controls “out there,” beyond our national borders, through multilateral efforts in the United Nations, G-8, APEC, and elsewhere; through technical support for countries building stronger export control systems; and through other bilateral efforts with our trading partners, such as the steps we are taking through the Transshipment Country Export Control Initiative.
All of these efforts, from policy to international, must come wrapped in outreach to you, the exporting community, our first line of defense. If you know the laws, the regs, the processes, and your customers, we can make the system work. So we take our responsibility seriously to give you the information you need to fulfill your role. For us, every day is Update.
This is a big agenda, but in our world of promise and peril, only a big agenda will do. It will take a lot of work by the men and women of BIS, but there is also much for our partners in the private sector and in the governments of our trading partners to do. For effective export controls are too big for any one government or combination of governments. Our export control system – and the security that underlies our trade, indeed all the world's trade – require cooperation among the American government, the governments of our trading partners, and the private sector.
So I'm going to conclude this conference with a commitment and a challenge.
Our commitment to you – the companies of the private sector and our colleagues in the governments of our trading partners – is that we will not rest in our efforts to improve the U.S. dual-use export control system. We will refine the Commerce Control List. We will find ways to make the system work better. We will listen. We will communicate. And we will work with you.
In turn, I challenge America 's exporters to be the first line of our common defense. Be aware of your potential customers for exports of your sensitive items. Work within the licensing system. Participate all year long in the various groups and forums BIS offers. Tell us what you think, and hear us out when we have something to say. Take responsibility for your actions. In short, be our active partners.
To our friends in foreign governments, I issue the challenge to make your export control systems work better. Work with us, and we'll work with you, to ensure effective controls every time and every place a sensitive, dual-use item is bought, sold, or traded. Let us be partners in making the world more secure for all of our peoples, while also making it more prosperous through trade.
Our ability to make “yes” possible is essential to our current and future well-being. If we all live up to our commitments and answer the challenges, in 2005 and the years to come, “yes” is also possible.
With that wish, this Conference has come to an end. I hope we will all walk out these doors and into the best year yet, and that next year we will all gather again riding a wave of security and prosperity. Thank you.