The Entity List was established in February 1997 to inform exporters and the general public about foreign entities whose activities impose a risk of diverting exported and reexported items into programs related to weapons of mass destruction. Since then, the grounds for identifying an entity on the List have expanded to include being sanctioned by the U.S. State Department. The presence of an entity on the List triggers additional licensing requirements for transactions involving controlled dual-use goods and technology. The List is in Supplement No. 4 to Part 744 to the Export Administration Regulations (15 C.F.R. Part 744, Supp. No. 4), and is maintained by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Click here for official information about the List.
The Entity List is intended to serve as a key tool in our first line of defense against proliferation – U.S. exporters screening their own transactions involving sensitive items. But the List is not effective for this purpose, because its information is often incomplete and out of date – insufficient for exporters to identify reliably the risky companies and organizations of which they should be wary, and for which they may need export licenses. These deficiencies undermine U.S. and international security, not only by hampering exporters’ screening, but also by weakening efforts to enforce export control restrictions and to punish violators. This is particularly true in the case of Chinese entities on the List, which are especially poorly identified. At a time when U.S. high-tech exports to China’s often-opaque industry are booming, and as Chinese efforts to acquire sensitive controlled technology from the United States continue unabated, it is essential to supply exporters with as much information as possible on the entities that should not be receiving such technology.
Recent efforts by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) regarding the List have been largely limited to adding and removing a few entities, and proposing additional grounds for adding entities to the List. Despite requests from industry and national security advocates, little has been done to ensure the currency and usefulness of information already on the List. (Click here to see the China section of the current U.S. Entity List, annotated by the Wisconsin Project to increase its usefulness as a screening tool for exporters.)