It is fitting that the first should be last. The long-awaited revisions of USML Categories I, II, and III are now imminent and will bring the Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative, which began under the Obama Administration, very close to completion.
As compliance experts will remember, the ECR initiative began in 2010 to streamline the USML by tightening its definitions and relaxing controls on less-lethal items. The plan was to transfer select items to the CCL where the manufacturers would benefit from less onerous regulations, but the government would still retain significant, but nuanced, controls to ensure that export policy objectives were attained. The objectives were seen as win-win-win: that is: 1) a USML list of fewer items and reduced licensing burden for DDTC, 2) lower costs and more nuanced licensing requirements for exporters, and 3) retention of controls for items transferred to the EAR with identified targeted purposes, notably national security, nonproliferation, anti-terrorism, human rights or other foreign policy purposes.