Space Foundation News

Administration Announces Export Reforms

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Administration Announces Export ReformsCOLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 31, 2010) — The Obama administration has announced changes to rules governing the export of sensitive military and other technologies, which will streamline export processes and free up U.S. space companies to compete more effectively in the global marketplace.

The changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) come after a year-long review by departments of State, Defense and Commerce and after much encouragement from industry. The new rules address many of the recommendations made earlier this year by The Coalition for Security and Competitiveness, which comprises 14 different industry organizations including the Space Foundation. See related article from the February 2010 issue of Space Watch.

Among the key changes are the consolidation of some enforcement activities in a single agency and creation of clearer lists of products for which sale is restricted.

U.S. export controls are designed to protect national security by restricting export of sensitive technologies; but, as a result of extremely complex regulations overseen by three different agencies, it can be difficult or even impossible to sell less-sensitive products internationally, even when those products are readily available in other industrialized countries.

Recently, the departments of State and Commerce finished reclassifying military vehicle products into three tiers, sorted by sensitivity. It was the first category out of 19 on the export control lists to be sorted by the administration’s new criterion. The initial results estimate that a third or more of the military vehicle products now restricted may soon be able to be freely exported and that restrictions on another third will be greatly relaxed. Initially, both State and Commerce will have separate lists, but by harmonizing the way the two departments regulate controls, the groundwork has been laid for a single list.

The Export Enforcement Coordination Center is the single enforcement agency created today by an executive order signed by the President. It will manage enforcement activities under a single set of licensing policies. In addition, the administration is moving forward on putting all licensing agencies on a single IT system.

The administration has set a goal of doubling U.S. exports, and these changes could produce billions of dollars in additional sales.

“After years of being handcuffed by onerous regulations, it appears that logic is being applied to export controls,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “There is still a long way to go, but we are encouraged that the administration understands that our industry must be freed to compete in a global marketplace.

“National security still remains the overarching objective,” Pulham continued. “The reforms provide the appropriate balance.”

To see the White House statement, click here.