What is Strategic Trade?

What is Strategic Trade?

Strategic trade refers to the transfer of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), conventional weapons, and materials and equipment used for their development or delivery.

Many of these commodities are dual-use (i.e. they can be legitimately used for civil and strategic/military purposes).

In general, strategic goods are commodities that are identified under the following multilateral export control regimes:

  • Wassenaar Arrangement

  • Nuclear Suppliers Group

  • Missile Technology Control Regime

  • Australia Group

What are some examples of Strategic Goods?

Strategic goods are a diverse set of materials and equipment that can be used to support a WMD or conventional weapons program. For a more comprehensive list, refer to the multilaterial export control regimes or national export control lists.

Some examples include:

  • Zirconium - Corrosion resistant metal that is widely used in the production of chemicals. It is also used for nuclear fuel rod cladding.

  • Ammonium nitrate - A common fertilizer that is also a precursor for many powerful explosives.

  • Carbon fiber - Strong, light-weight material used in many applications where those are desirable characteristics, from golf clubs to cars to aircraft. It can also be used for missiles and uranium enrichment centrifuges.

  • Machine tools - Umbrella term for multiple types of manufacturing equipment designed to produce components by removing metal. When machine tools provide numerically-controlled, high precision tooling on multiple axes, they can be used to produce components for many strategic applications.

  • Vibration test equipment - Used to test the durability of products under intense vibrations and shocks. Important piece of testing equipment for missiles to simulate atmospheric re-entry.

  • Turbojet engines - Used to power civilian aircraft. Can be used to power unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles.

  • Freeze dryers - Laboratory equipment used to preserve organic materials. Can be used in production of biological agents and toxins.

  • Night vision cameras - Various civilian uses, but also important in military operations.

What are Strategic Trade Controls?

Strategic Trade Controls (STCs) are the efforts taken on the part of States and the international community to regulate the transfer of strategic goods during export, import, re-export, transshipment, and transit. STCs take a broader scope than traditional export control regulations.

How do Strategic Trade Controls relate to Export Controls?

STCs and export controls are very closely related. STCs encompass a broader scope than traditional export control regulations. In analyzing STCs, we consider not only exports, but imports, re-exports, transshipment, and transit. In our research, we investigate the entire apparatus that enables illicit transfers of strategic goods, including financial networks.