This article by Brigitte Dekker & Maaike Okano-Heijmans was originally published in the winter/spring edition of the Strategic Trade Review, volume 6, issue 9, a special issue on emerging technologies.
Amid intensifying Sino-U.S. competition for technological leadership and geopolitical hegemony, the U.S. government in August 2018 announced the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA) tailored to so-called emerging technologies. This unilateral push caused uncertainty with governments worldwide as well as within the current Multilateral Export Control Regimes (MECRs), in particular the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). This article posits that innovative approaches to export control are needed to deal with new challenges posed by today’s emerging technologies. Lacking a broad consensus on the potential military and civilian uses of emerging technologies, these technologies are arguably “omni-use” rather than “dual-use” in character.
"The rise of new security concerns and ethical considerations – including related to human rights – is blurring the lines between economic and national security."
Moreover, the rise of new security concerns and ethical considerations – including related to human rights – is blurring the lines between economic and national security. A case study of the Netherlands, a global leader in various high-tech sectors, illustrates the challenges of dealing with these changes and the U.S. push for action. Voluntary, principles-based arrangements are needed to complement governments’ efforts within the formal export control regimes. Building on theories of transnational global governance, trusted communities are highlighted as a particularly valuable instrument to engage relevant stakeholders, in particular from the private sector.