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President Bush has issued a directive that will overhaul aspects of U.S. policy with regard to export licensing and controls. The action "will ensure that U.S. defense trade policies and practices better support the National Security Strategy of the United States," according to the U.S. State Department. The reforms are intended to improve the way in which State licenses the export of defense equipment, services and technical data. The directive calls for additional financial resources and intelligence support for the timely processing of defense trade licenses. New guidelines will require a decision by the government on relevant export-license applications within 60 days, "absent a strong reason for additional time." The electronic licensing system will be upgraded to handle submissions for all types of defense trade licenses, and ensure that all agencies have access to the same information. Jurisdictional issues between the departments of State and Commerce will be handled by a formal inter-agency dispute procedure. In addition, a multi-agency working group will be set up to improve procedures for conducting export-enforcement investigations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called those actions "important steps toward enhancing national security and promoting global competitiveness," while helping to make the export-licensing system "more efficient, predictable and transparent." Dan Christman, the chamber's senior vice president for international affairs, said, "It's time we move away from an outdated export control system and align the process with our current security and economic challenges." The chamber is a member of the Coalition for Security and Competitiveness, which has issued 19 recommendations for modernizing export controls on munitions and dual-use items.
State Department: http://www.state.gov
U.S. Chamber: http://www.uschamber.com
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