PRBA to Pursue Changes to Secondary Cell Export Controls Under Wassenaar Arrangement

George Kerchner, Executive Director
PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association

As the energy density of lithium ion cells continues to improve, PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association has become increasingly concerned that the export restrictions on “secondary cells” under an international treaty known as the Wassenaar Arrangement could impede technological development. Therefore, PRBA has started to explore the possibility of eliminating these export controls on secondary cells.

The Wassenaar Arrangement, which is currently comprised of 41 countries, was established in 1996 to contribute to regional and international security and stability by promoting transparency and greater responsibility in transfers of conventional arms and dual-use goods and technologies.  Forty-one countries are currently signatories to the Arrangement.  One of the dual-use goods and technologies subject to the Arrangement are secondary cells with an energy density exceeding 300 Wh/kg (at 20°C). The result is that secondary cells that exceed 300 Wh/kg are subject to burdensome export controls.  The full Lists of Dual Use Goods and Technologies and Munitions Subject to the Wassenaar Arrangement can be found at

PRBA is scheduled to meet in Washington, D.C., in April with members of the Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee (ISTAC) to discuss the next round of proposed changes to the Wassenaar Arrangement and the possibility of eliminating export controls on secondary cells. ISTAC consists of industry and government experts who advise the Department of Commerce’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to information systems equipment and technology.

If a proposal to eliminate export controls on secondary cells were adopted by the Wassenaar Arrangement signatories, the changes could go into effect in early 2016. The Arrangement’s decision-making body, the Plenary, normally meets annually in December in Vienna, Austria where the Wassenar Arrangement’s Secretariat is located.

However, export controls are implemented by each individual participating country, which means that in practice, implementation will vary from country to country in accordance with national procedures.

For more information, contact George Kerchner at 202-719-4109 or