Congress, Other

New report to quantify effects of ITAR on aerospace industry

A report expected to be released today could address one of the major obstacles to export control reform. The Wall Street Journal reports that an Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) report will quantify the effects that strict export control reforms have had on the aerospace industry since the late 1990s. According to the article, the move of satellites and related components to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) export control regime cost the industry up to $21 billion in lost sales and more than 4,000 jobs in satellite manufacturing alone. That report is scheduled to be provided at a hearing on export control reform by the House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled for this morning.

The report would answer one of the criticisms of export control reform efforts: the lack of solid evidence that ITAR had, in fact, directly hurt the American satellite manufacturing industry. Congressional staffers had previously noted the lack of specific data on the adverse impacts of ITAR as one reason why export control reforms had stalled: while there were plenty of anecdotes and horror stories about the effects of ITAR, it was difficult to separate ITAR from other factors as the cause of effects such as the a drop in US share of the commercial satellite manufacturing market. Whether this new AIA report will create Congressional support for potential reforms to aid the industry, though, remains to be seen, especially in an election year.

10 comments to New report to quantify effects of ITAR on aerospace industry

  • vulture4

    ITAR was created to force Russia to stop selling arms to Iran. But then NASA spends huge sums paying Russia for seats on Soyuz under an exception to ITAR. Thales advertises in headlines that its products are “ITAR-Free”. If Congress needs a report to tell it ITAR is a bad idea, they are ignorant. But then, they passed it in the first place.

  • BeancounterFromDownunder

    I’d say that the horse has bolted. It’s all too late for US industry to catch up. Loss of knowledge and expertise to other countries just like other high-tech industries. e.g. Apple iPads. That’s what happens when political expedience overides logic. Let’s face it, ITAR has never been shown to halt or even slow arms sales. Economic sanctions have created greater grief for Iran than ITAR ever did.

  • Jeff Foust

    vulture4: The move of satellites and related components from the Commerce Control List to the US Munitions List (putting them under jurisdiction of ITAR) was prompted by Cox Report investigation of the transfer of satellite technology to China during the investigation of Chinese launch failures carrying US-built commercial communications satellites. You may be thinking of the Iran North Korea Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA), which includes a provision that still allows NASA to purchase spaceflight services, including Soyuz seats, from Russia.

  • amightywind

    $21 billion of lost sales to our enemy, the Chinese! If you sold your gun to a hit man and he turned around and shot you with it would you still call it a profit. Sadly you ridiculous pacifists would.

  • paulfjeld

    When I was in Canada working with Telesat Canada and MDA, there was a clear preference for dealing with European countries after ITAR. Too much friction working in the US. Look who’s buses they bought instead of Boeing’s and Lockheed’s after ITAR made pulling teeth more fun than going cross-border. Also, there was a lack of respect that ITAR engendered. How could the US be so stupid?

  • amightywind,
    Re-read the comment Jeff posted. You can reform ITAR and still keep INKSNA. The industry wants to reform ITAR, not get rid of it entirely…

  • gregori

    The Chinese don’t need to US space technology to attack America.

  • Blackjax

    My congressman appears to be on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. I think I’ll try contacting his office and highlighting the importance of this report and getting him to consider supporting H.R.3288

    Others might want to check the list of members, see if they are in a district with influence on the matter, and do a little lobbying if so:

  • Jeff, I stand corrected, you are right, I was confused about he two acts. However both are futile. About the only thing that US exporters don’t seem to have much trouble getting cleared under ITAR appears to be actual armaments.

    However my Chinese friend laughs at this policy. The real competition between the US and China is in exports and high-tech manufacturing, not in military confrontation. The country that wins economically cannot be defeated militarily. US manufacturers shifting production of electronics, machine tools, appliances, vehicles, and eventually aircraft to China have no hesitation about sacrificing technical knowledge for a short-term profit. GE, HP, and even Walmart are becoming Chinese companies. Their US stockholders would fight any attempt to stop the transfer of manufacturing know-how, what little we still have.

    The only real limitation China now faces is that its workers are demanding a better standard of living and commodity manufacturing is shifting to other countries with lower labor costs.

  • Space Cadet

    One would think the difficulty of obtaining a license to have technical discussions between NASA contractors and foreign partners was bad enough, but even when the US organization obtains an export license allowing them to have technical discussions, the foreign partner will sometimes avoid technical interchange to avoid “ITAR contamination”.

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