16 April 2019
Nikakhtar Nominated to Head Export Controls Agency
The White House on 11 April announced the nomination of Nazak Nikakhtar to be undersecretary of commerce for industry and security. Nikakhtar has already been performing the non-exclusive duties of this position even while still officially holding the title of assistant secretary of commerce for industry and analysis in the International Trade Administration, a different agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Nikakhtar had been confirmed for the ITA position in March 2018 but she is no longer shown on the ITA organisation chart. The ITA assistant secretary for industry and analysis position is being filled on an acting basis by career ITA official James Sullivan, who is also listed as head of the Office of Service Industries. The previously confirmed undersecretary for industry and security had been Mira Ricardel, who left that position to serve as deputy national security advisor in the White House and was subsequently dismissed after clashing with First Lady Melania Trump.
As Bureau of Industry and Security chief Nikakhtar will play a key role in enforcing U.S. export control laws and regulations as well as in developing new export control regulations. Sources indicate that she has a particular emphasis for U.S. strategic interests, arguing in favour of cutting back on the DOC’s promotion of high technology exports to mainland China out of concern for intellectual property theft and encouraging U.S. aerospace executives at the Farnborough Air Show not to rely on a mainland China-focused supply chain for that reason as well.
Prior to her ITA position, Nikakhtar was a trade attorney at several Washington law firms. Her professional background also includes stints at the ITA’s non-market economy office (including in negotiations with mainland China) and as a BIS industry analyst. Nikakhtar received her law degree and master of economics degree from Syracuse University and her bachelor’s degree in French and political science from the University of California – Los Angeles.