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The Reagan administration is taking steps to ease export restrictions that severely hamper US producers and cut them off at the knees in world markets, Associated Press reports from Washington. The proposals, announced by Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldridge on Monday, include thinning out the export-control list to remove low technology items, and lifting restrictions on products sold directly to governments of Western allies, Baldrige said. He said that the administration, as part of the competitiveness and trade package to go to Congress later this month, will also propose a speed-up of licensing for high-technology exports when foreign equivalents are freely available from other countries. The administration will also ask Congress to streamline the procedures for exporting products to China, Baldrige declared, noting that up to 40% of all US goods shipped to allies now requires an export licence. He said that foreign companies were looking elsewhere for products and components, figuring that buying US products involves a big hassle because of the controls. The average company abroad is not dependent on American products or technology – 20 or 30 years ago, yes. But not today, Baldrige declared. The proposals would not however affect trade with the Soviet Union or the Comecon countries. Among the specific proposals are to extend special lines of export approval to trusted companies in NATO nations and in Japan in an effort to cut by roughly a third the 20 days it now takes to process applications – and the overall aim would be to cut licence applications which now total 120,000 a year, by 20%. While approving the plans, Howard Lewis, associate vice president for the National Association of Manufacturers, noted that the steps announced did not appear to streamline procedures for obtaining Defense Department approval for high-technology exports. Commerce and the Pentagon long have been at odds over export-control policy, and the National Security Council is reviewing the possibilities.

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