ZTE saga highlights new influence of small US regulatory agency housed in the Commerce Department

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The Trump administration has charged the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) with determining which new technology should face export restrictions, in what would be the biggest expansion of the agency’s purview since the Cold War. The agency’s broadening role has alarmed some people in the tech industry, who have had few dealings with the obscure agency.

The little-known division of the US Commerce Department is expected to gain new authority to regulate technology exports.

Technology executives are only beginning to assess how they could be affected by new export limits. Historically, the roughly 450-person BIS, with an annual budget of a little more than $100 million, has operated in relative obscurity, overseeing the export of sensitive technologies that have both commercial and military applications—so-called “dual-use” items. The agency, which has offices in Silicon Valley, also enforces sanctions that prohibit exports to countries the US deems as threats, including Syria, Iran and North Korea.

American tech companies have been on edge since the Trump administration in December unveiled his “America First” security plan that calls for protecting emerging US technology from being copied by overseas competitors. The responsibility for carrying out those goals falls largely to BIS. 

The Information has an excellent write-up on the agency and its oversight of ZTE. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/2LjXWjm

-Marc A. Ross

Marc A. Ross is the founder of Caracal Global and specializes in global communications and thought leader management at the intersection of politics, policy, and profits. Working with boardrooms and C-Suite executives from multinational corporations, trade associations, and disruptive startups, Marc helps business leaders navigate globalization, disruption, and American politics.