Statement on Signing the Export Administration Amendments Act of 1985

July 12, 1985

I have signed into law S. 883, the ``Export Administration Amendments Act of 1985,'' which amends and reauthorizes the Export Administration Act (EAA) of 1979.

The Congress and the executive branch have worked long and hard to produce the compromise contained in this complex and controversial legislation. Lengthy negotiations nearly produced a bill in the final hours of the 98th Congress. The 99th Congress took up the legislation with renewed determination. The bill I have signed reflects that determination as well as congressional willingness to compromise to resolve difficult problems.

I believe that this new law, which reflects compromise by all concerned parties, strikes an acceptable balance between enhancing our commercial interests and protecting our national security interests.

  • To ensure national security, this law provides expanded enforcement authority, takes numerous steps to strengthen COCOM (an informal organization that provides for multilateral controls), and, by establishing new statutory crimes for illegal exports, provides enforcement officials with an effective tool to reduce illegal diversions.

  • To make our exporters more competitive, this law decontrols the exports of low-tech items to COCOM members, liberalizes licensing where comparable goods are widely available in the international marketplace, and provides for expanded congressional and private sector roles in the export control program.

During the congressional deliberations on the EAA, I stated that there must be adequate discretionary authority to allow the President to manage the export control program. I regret that in the new law the Congress has prescribed several new administrative arrangements and reporting requirements that make the export control program more difficult to manage. However, I am pleased that the Congress also has acknowledged the administration's efforts to resolve issues administratively. One example of this is my recent instruction to the Commerce and Defense Departments to work together to develop licensing procedures for specific commodities and countries. These procedures are now in place and are being overseen by the National Security Council.

During the EAA debate, the Congress faced numerous controversial issues on which each of the competing sides had compelling arguments for its position. One such contentious issue was whether the contracts of U.S. exporters would be protected if foreign policy controls were imposed. The Congress agreed to compromise language that allows the President to break existing contracts if the strategic interests of the United States are threatened. This provision will allow U.S. exporters to be perceived as more reliable suppliers, while at the same time maintaining adequate presidential authority to respond to those instances where the country's strategic interests are at risk.

Another controversial issue addressed was the administrative arrangements for the enforcement of the act. The new law grants enhanced enforcement powers to the Customs Service and the Department of Commerce by providing both agencies with police powers. In addition, the new law grants primary authority to the Customs Service to conduct investigations overseas and provides that the Commerce Department's overseas activities will relate principally to prelicensing and postshipment investigations. It is clear that the Congress envisions significant roles for both agencies. Thus, I intend to direct both agencies to cooperate to ensure effective and complementary roles in enforcement of our export control laws.

This new law also contains provisions regarding congressional procedures for reviewing nuclear cooperation agreements. It adds a 30-day consultation period to the current 60-day congressional review period. Under these new procedures, the President has the discretion to approve execution of an agreement before transmitting it for either period. If approved for execution before the 30-day period, the agreement would not have to be resubmitted; a single submission would be legally sufficient. I expect that these new procedures for congressional review will apply to the agreement for cooperation with Finland, which I transmitted to the Congress on May 21, 1985.

It is clear that the new EAA involves a delicate balancing of national as well as programmatic objectives. I do want to acknowledge the invaluable role in securing final enactment of this legislation by the bill managers -- Senators Jake Garn and John Heinz and Representatives Don Bonker and Toby Roth.

Note: S. 883, approved July 12, was assigned Public Law No. 99-64.