The Export Control Reform Act of 2018, included within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, became law on August 13, 2018, and provides “modern” and permanent statutory authority for the U.S. Export Administration regulations (EAR), which control the export, re-export, and transfer of U.S. origin “dual-use” items.

As a result of the effort to strengthen control over foreign investment in the United States (contained in a companion statute within the NDAA), the law directs the Commerce Department to establish an inter-agency process, subject to a public notice and comment period, for the identification of “emerging and foundational technologies” that are essential to the national security of the United States, and requires the imposition of licensing requirements (even if unilateral) at least for transfers of such technologies to U.S. arms embargoed countries, which includes China.

With respect to potential technologies likely to incur heightened scrutiny, a Commerce Department industry event in May of this year highlighted U.S. advancements vis-a-vis Europe and China in the areas of artificial intelligence (particularly autonomy, and human-AI interaction), 5G technology, and robotics, among others.