New Articles

BIS Seeks Comments on Identifying “Foundational Technologies”

foundational technologies

BIS Seeks Comments on Identifying “Foundational Technologies”

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) recently published an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) regarding the identification and review of controls for certain “foundational technologies.” This ANPRM represents another step toward implementation of the “emerging and foundational technology” provisions set forth in the Export Control Reform Act (“ECRA”) of 2018, which has been slow to get off the ground. Section 1758 of the ECRA requires that “foundational technologies” be identified and that BIS establish appropriate controls for that technology under the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”).

The ANPRM solicits public comments concerning the definition of and criteria for identifying “foundational technologies” in order to apply controls to “emerging technologies” and “foundational technologies” which are essential to U.S. national security, pursuant to the ECRA. Specifically, BIS is asking interested parties to submit comments by October 26, 2020, responding to the following topics:

-How to further define foundational technology to assist in the identification of such items;

-sources to identify such items;

-criteria to determine whether controlled items identified in AT level Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs), in whole or in part, or covered by EAR99 categories, for which a license is not required to countries subject to a U.S. arms embargo, are essential to U.S. national security;

-the status of development of foundational technologies in the United States and other countries;

-the impact specific foundational technology controls may have on the development of such technologies in the U.S.;

-examples of implementing controls based on end-use and/or end-user rather than, or in addition to, technology-based controls;

-any enabling technologies, including tooling, testing, and certification equipment, that should be included within the scope of a foundational technology; and

-any other approaches to the issue of identifying foundational technologies important to U.S. national security, including the stage of development or maturity level of a foundational technology that would warrant consideration for export control.

BIS explained that it does not seek to expand jurisdiction over technologies that are not already subject to the EAR. BIS, through an interagency process, seeks to determine whether there are specific foundational technologies that warrant more restrictive controls.  Interested parties may submit comments through the federal rulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or via mail to BIS.

Husch Blackwell encourages clients and companies to review the recent ANPRM for applicability.

______________________________________________________________

Cortney O’Toole Morgan is a Washington D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She leads the firm’s International Trade & Supply Chain group.

Julia Banegas is an attorney in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

Huawei

U.S. Adds 38 New Huawei Affiliates to Entity List While Again Expanding Foreign-Produced Direct Product Rule

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) has announced that it is further restricting access by Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and its designated non-U.S. affiliates (“Huawei”) to U.S.-produced technology and software. BIS first added Huawei to its Entity List on May 15, 2019 and has continued to impose additional export restrictions on Huawei under the U.S. Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”). Most recently, BIS published a Federal Register notice to implement the following enhancements. Although BIS published this Federal Register notice on August 20, 2020, the following rule changes took effect retroactively as of August 17, 2020:

Addition of Thirty-Eight New Huawei Affiliates to the Entity List. In its announcement, BIS added thirty-eight (38) additional Huawei affiliates to the Entity List. This action now brings the total number of Entity List-designated Huawei affiliates to one hundred and fifty-two (152). The EAR generally prohibits anyone, anywhere in the world from supplying products, software or technology that is “subject to the EAR” to these Huawei affiliates without a BIS license.

Expiration of Huawei Temporary General License. BIS had previously issued (and then, on multiple occasions, extended) a Temporary General License which permitted certain transactions with Huawei Entity List affiliates in order to support existing networks, equipment and handsets that were in existence prior to Huawei’s initial Entity List designation on May 16, 2019. In its Federal Register notice, BIS announced that it would be allowing the Temporary General License to expire. As a result, pursuant to the expiration date set in its most recent renewal notice, the Huawei Temporary General License expired effective August 13, 2020.

Anyone who previously utilized the Temporary General License was required to obtain certain compliance certifications in connection with transactions conducted pursuant to the Temporary General License and the EAR will require those persons to retain those certifications in accordance with the EAR’s recordkeeping requirements.

Permanent Authorization for Cybersecurity Research and Vulnerability Disclosures to Huawei Entity List Companies. The Temporary General License also contained a provision which authorized the disclosure of certain information to Huawei Entity List companies in order to assist with maintaining the integrity and reliability of existing data networks. After allowing the remainder of the Temporary General License to expire, BIS permanently codified this narrow exception into the EAR in order to promote cybersecurity.

Expansion of the Huawei Foreign-Produced Direct Product Rule. In May 2020, BIS amended the EAR’s foreign-produced direct product (FPDP) rules to designate the following items as “subject to the EAR”: (i) foreign-produced items produced or developed by a Huawei Entity List affiliate through the use of technology or software controlled under certain Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs), and (ii) foreign-produced items that are produced using equipment which is the direct product of U.S. origin software or technology controlled under certain ECCNs and also produced according to software or technology specifications produced or developed by a Huawei Entity List affiliate. BIS has now significantly expanded this rule.

As amended, the new Huawei FPDP rule now completely disregards whether foreign-produced items produced by a 3rd party are produced according to Huawei specifications and instead extends the Huawei FPDP rule’s coverage to all foreign-produced items resulting from the specified software, technology or production equipment which are intended for incorporation into or for use in the “production” or “development” of any “part”, “component”, or “equipment” to be produced, purchased or ordered by a Huawei Entity List company or otherwise included in any transaction featuring a Huawei Entity List company as a “purchaser”, “intermediate consignee”, “ultimate consignee” or “end-user” (terms in quotation marks in the previous sentence are defined terms under the EAR).

As a result of these amendments, a much broader range of foreign-produced items are now “subject to the EAR” and therefore prohibited for export, reexport or in-country transfer to any Huawei Entity List company without an appropriate BIS license.  Although BIS will normally review such license applications on a “presumption of denial” standard, these amendments did create an exception which states that BIS will evaluate license applications involving Huawei Entity List companies on a “case-by-case” basis when they involve foreign-produced telecommunications systems, equipment and devices below the 5G level.

The amendment did feature a savings clause, which allowed the continuance of certain qualifying transactions which were initiated prior to August 17, 2020.

____________________________________________________________

Grant Leach is an Omaha-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP focusing on international trade, export controls, trade sanctions and anti-corruption compliance.

Cortney O’Toole Morgan is a Washington D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She leads the firm’s International Trade & Supply Chain group.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

Huawei

BIS Allows U.S. Companies to Work with Huawei on Standards

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing a rule change effective June 18, 2020, which amends the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) to allow for the release of certain technology to Huawei Technologies, Co., Ltd. and 114 of its non-U.S. affiliates designated on the Entity List without a license “if such release is made for the purpose of contributing to the revision or development of a ‘standard’ in a ‘standards organization.’”

Despite being added to the Entity List by BIS in 2019, Huawei and its foreign affiliates still participate in several international standards organizations in which U.S. companies also participate. BIS states in its notice “[a]s international standards serve as the building blocks for product development and help ensure functionality, interoperability, and safety of the products, it is important to U.S. technological leadership that U.S. companies be able to work in these bodies in order to ensure that U.S. standards proposals are fully considered.”

As a result of Huawei’s entity list designation, BIS has received questions regarding the applicability of the EAR in the context of standards-setting or development. On August 19, 2019, BIS issued a “General Advisory Opinion Concerning Prohibited Activities in the Standards Setting or Development Context When a Listed Entity is Involved”, which addressed the applicability of certain types of releases. With the issuance of this new interim final rule, that previous guidance has been rescinded.

The new rule removes certain licensing requirements imposed by the original listing and removes the need to determine the application of controls to those releases. The interim final rule revises ninety-three entries, which list Huawei and its 114 foreign affiliates by changing the text in the Licensing Requirement column from “For all items subject to the EAR (See §744.11 of the EAR)” to “For all items subject to the EAR (see § 744.11 of the EAR), EXCEPT for technology subject to the EAR that is designated as EAR99, or controlled on the Commerce Control List for anti-terrorism reasons only, when released to members of a ‘‘standards organization’’ (see § 772.1) for the purpose of contributing to the revision or development of a ‘‘standard’’ (see § 772.1).’’

According to the notice, the definition of a “standard” for the purpose of this rule can be found in the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) Circular A-119. BIS welcomes comments from interested parties on the impact of the rule change on or before August 17, 2020.

________________________________________________________________

Cortney O’Toole Morgan is a Washington D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. She leads the firm’s International Trade & Supply Chain group.

Grant Leach is an Omaha-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP focusing on international trade, export controls, trade sanctions and anti-corruption compliance.

Camron Greer is an Assistant Trade Analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington D.C. office.

BIS

BIS Introduces Significant Restrictions on U.S. Exports to China, Russia, and Venezuela

On April 28, 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published three amendments to the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) that are expected to have a significant impact on businesses – both within the U.S. and beyond – with regard to the export, re-export, or transfer of goods, software, and technology subject to U.S. jurisdiction to Chinese, Russian, and Venezuelan entities, including both commercial and military end-users.

The first rule expands existing export restrictions on military end-users in China, Russia, and Venezuela. The second rule eliminates License Exception Civil End Users (“CIV”), which previously authorized the export of certain items restricted for national security reasons to countries in Country Group D:1, including China, Russia, and Venezuela. These two rules are being issued as final rules (i.e., without an opportunity for public comment), and will become effective on June 29, 2020. The third rule is a proposal to modify license exception Additional Permissive Reexports (“APR”), which currently authorizes the re-export of certain U.S.-origin items from third countries to China and other Country Group D:1 destinations that cannot be exported directly from the United States without a license. Under the proposed revisions, a license from BIS would be required for such re-exports. Comments on this proposal must be received by BIS no later than June 29, 2020.

The three rules may have been the product of a White House Cabinet meeting that apparently took place on March 25, 2020.  That meeting reportedly considered U.S. policies with respect to transfers of U.S. technology to China, particularly those involving Huawei. Prior to the meeting, BIS prepared two draft rules that would (1) reduce the de minimis U.S. controlled content threshold applicable to Huawei and its affiliated companies from 25% to 10%, which would dramatically increase the number of foreign-made products that would be considered subject to U.S. jurisdiction and therefore require a license, and (2) amend the EAR’s “foreign direct product rule” to limit Huawei’s ability to obtain chips that are the product of U.S.-origin semiconductor manufacturing equipment (for example, chips produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company).

According to reports, the Cabinet meeting resulted in an agreement to tighten these limitations through an amendment to the foreign direct product rule. While that rule has not yet been released by BIS (and may yet be forthcoming), the three rules published on April 28, 2020, constitute an even broader effort to tighten technology controls on China.

Expansion of Export, Re-export, and In-Country Transfer Controls for Military End-Use or Military End Users

The first rule will significantly expand export restrictions on military end-users by broadening the list of items requiring a license when exported, re-exported, or transferred to a “military end-user” or for a “military end-use” in China, Russia, and Venezuela pursuant to § 744.21 of the EAR.  For example, under the new rule, mass-market encryption items classified under Export Control Classification Number (“ECCN”) 5A992.c would trigger the license requirement.  Popular consumer devices – including mobile phones, laptops, and “smart” devices – may potentially be restricted under the new rule if intended to any “military end-user” or a “military end-use” in any of the three destinations.

In connection with this new rule, it is important to note that the existing definition of “military end-users” is already very broad. In addition to the army, navy, air force, marines, and coast guard, it also includes “national guard/police, government intelligence and reconnaissance organization[s],” as well as “any person or entity whose actions or functions are intended to support ‘military end-uses.’” Additionally, the rule further expands the definition of “military end-use” to include any item that supports or contributes to the operation, installation, maintenance, repair, overhaul, refurbishing, “development,” or “production,” of certain military items.

Businesses involved with the export, re-export, or in-country transfer of items or technology subject to U.S. jurisdiction to China, Russia, and Venezuela will, therefore, need to conduct increased diligence and carefully assess whether the end-users or end-uses of those items or technology fall within these broad definitions, in particular government-adjacent end-users, such as state-owned enterprises or government contractors. BIS has indicated that it intends to issue guidance regarding the level of due diligence it expects from industry to comply with the expanded licensing requirements.

Additionally, this rule broadens the list of items requiring a license when exported to a military end-user or for a military end-use to cover items and technology subject to relatively low levels of control that relate to materials processing, electronics, telecommunications, information security, sensors and lasers, and propulsion. The new ECCNs covered under the scope of new regulation include, by way of example, mass-market encryption items and software (e.g., smartphones), certain microchips and integrated circuits, certain electronic testing and processing equipment, telecommunications test equipment, and certain materials processing equipment, such as mining and drilling equipment and industrial pumps.

Further, while exports that previously required a license under § 744.21 were reviewed on a case-by-case basis by BIS, the new rule states that license requests will be reviewed under a presumption of denial.  This means that such applications will be rejected in principle unless the presumption can be overcome. Overcoming the presumption is fact-specific and rare, but will likely depend upon the policy goals of BIS at the time the license application is made (for example, BIS could conclude that an export that would meet a humanitarian need could outweigh the presumption of denial).

Finally, the rule separately expands Electronic Export Information (“EEI”) filing requirements in the Automated Export System (“AES”) for all exports to China, Russia, or Venezuela. Previously, exporters were not required to file an EEI for many shipments valued under $2500 (unless an export license is required), nor was it necessary to enter the ECCN in the EEI when the item is classified EAR99 (i.e., the item is not identified on the Commerce Control List (“CCL”)), nor if the sole reason for control is for anti-terrorism (“AT”) reasons. The new rule will now require filing an EEI for all items destined to China, Russia, or Venezuela regardless of the value of the shipment unless the shipment is eligible for License Exception GOV. This is significant because the failure to file EEI, even if a license from BIS is not required, may constitute a separate violation of the EAR and of the Foreign Trade Regulations administered by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Elimination of License Exception Civil End Users (CIV)

Pursuant to the second new rule, License Exception CIV is eliminated in whole. In the explanatory portion of the final rule, BIS stated, “the primary goal of this effort is to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership.” While the final rule did not make mention of China, China most assuredly is the primary target of this effort, as the country has long been criticized by Trump Administration officials for exploiting perceived gaps in U.S. export controls via retransfers of U.S. technology. Previously, the License Exception authorized the export, re-export, or transfer (in-country) of certain items subject to control only for low-level national security (“NS”) reasons, and identified as eligible for the license exception most commercial end-users in destinations identified in Country Group D:1 (including China, Russia, and Venezuela, among other countries), without the need for prior review by BIS. This rule modification removes the previously applicable license exception for such low-level items.

Modification of License Exception Additional Permissive Reexports (APR)

Finally, citing the need “[t]o get better visibility into transactions of national security or foreign policy interest to the United States,” BIS proposes to modify License Exception APR for certain controlled items.  Previously, paragraph (a) of License Exception APR authorized the re-export of certain US.-origin items from a country in Country Group A:1 (i.e., countries, like the United States, participating in the Wassenaar Arrangement for multilateral export controls) or Hong Kong to certain more controlled destinations, provided that the re-export is consistent with an export authorization from the country of re-export.

In particular, License Exception APR currently authorizes re-exports to Country Group D:1 (which, as noted above, includes China, Russia, and Venezuela) so long as the items are only subject to national security controls.  BIS is proposing to remove countries in Country Group D:1 as a category of eligible destinations, as “even Wassenaar participating states in Country Group A:1 may have export authorization policies that do not align with the national security or foreign policy interests of the U.S. government.” If License Exception APR is modified as proposed, re-exports of certain national security-controlled items must be reviewed by the U.S. government before proceeding. Given the increasing consensus within the U.S. government that additional U.S. export restrictions will be needed to counter China’s “civil-military fusion,” it is reasonable to conclude that the new rule also is intended to target China in particular.

Unlike the other two rules released contemporaneously by BIS, this third rule is only a proposal. BIS is currently accepting comments on the rule through June 29, 2020, and so it is possible that revisions may be made to the final version of the rule. Companies that would be affected by the proposed rule and other interested parties should consider drafting comments on the rule to make their voices heard prior to the deadline.

Conclusion

The three rules published by BIS on April 28, 2020, reflect the Trump Administration’s latest effort to pursue stricter controls on U.S. goods and technology, even as the full economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to be realized. While the April 28, 2020 rules impact exports, re-exports, and in-country transfers to a variety of destinations, based on reports of the March 25, 2020, Cabinet meeting, and other high-profile actions targeting Huawei, China appears to be the principal motivation behind the new rules.

Although the two final rules will not become effective for 60 days, all companies conducting cross-border transactions involving goods, software, or technology subject to U.S. jurisdiction should carefully conduct due diligence on the end-users of their items and ensure that their compliance procedures are fully implemented to avoid even inadvertent violations of these tightened trade restrictions.