Optimizing Export Controls for Critical and Emerging Technologies

Semiconductors, Quantum Technology, AI, and Biotechnology

Using a trade lens to evaluate geostrategic competition and how best to maintain U.S. military superiority, this report assesses what the optimal export control policy should be, knowing that there are serious political constraints domestically as well as with key allies. The first in a series of three, this report seeks to reimagine the current approach to export controls in particularly sensitive areas of emerging technologies that pose the greatest challenges. It begins by comparing current control lists to see where they overlap, which in turn provides greater clarity on the current U.S. definition of national security critical sectors. After comparing control lists, the report evaluates quantum computing, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, biotechnology, and intangible goods to determine whether additional controls are necessary—and, if so, what economic costs such controls would entail.

This report is made possible through generous support from the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Emily Benson
Director, Project on Trade and Technology and Senior Fellow, Scholl Chair in International Business

Margot Putnam

Intern, Scholl Chair in International Business