Coalition Calls for Overhaul of Export Regulations
The Coalition for Security and Global Competitiveness has sent an 11-page list of recommendations for revamping the nation’s export control laws to Obama administration officials.
International Traffic in Arms regulations that require defense contractors to receive licenses for weapons systems before shipping them to foreign countries have not been revised in more than two decades, the coalition noted.
“The result is a system that no longer fully protects our national security, has not kept up with accelerating technological change, and does not function with the efficiency and transparency needed to keep the United States competitive in the global marketplace,” the report said.
U.S. defense manufacturers have complained for years about ITAR requirements, which they have said, can be too onerous. Even trusted allies such as Great Britain and Canada cannot purchase certain technologies. Foreign buyers end up purchasing similar technologies from other nations, which hurts U.S. competitiveness, critics say. Proponents insist that the regulations are necessary and can point to examples of where sensitive technology ended up in the hands of potential adversaries.
The 1979 Export Administration Act expired in 2001, and there has not been an overhaul of the law since, the coalition noted. The Bush and Obama administrations have granted a series of one-year extensions of the act. In August, President Obama announced a review of export control policies. Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also began congressional review of the law with an eye toward introducing reform legislation this year.
The current system, administered by the Department of State’s directorate of defense trade controls, cannot keep up with the rapid changes in technology, the report said.
“Lifecycles for many new technologies are now six months to a year. Yet many of the controls set by government were implemented years, if not, decades ago,” the report said. Many controlled technologies are no longer sensitive, and in some cases, technologies that are sensitive, are not being controlled. The coalition recommended a “sunset” rule whereby items on the list will automatically drop off unless a justification can be presented for maintaining the status quo.
At a news conference this morning, officials from the Coalition for Security and Competitiveness sounded optimistic about the prospect of reform. "We are expecting something to happen" in the immediate future, said Remy Nathan, assistant vice president for international affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association. Nathan said there is high-level push at Commerce, State and Defense to take action.
The coalition's policy recommendations can be foundhere.
Also, look for additional details on ITAR reform in the February issue of National Defense Magazine.