A long-awaited big win for export control reform

After fighting for over a decade to reform an export control regime that they felt was hurting the ability of American companies to compete in an increasingly global market, the space industry got a major victory today as reform language was included in the final version of the defense authorization bill by House and Senate conferees. From the summary of the conference report by the Democratic caucus of the House Armed Services Committee:

Reforms satellite export control by repealing Section 1513(a) of the Strom Thurmond NDAA for FY99, which essentially restores the authority of the President to move satellites and related items from the United States Munitions List to the Commerce Control List. The provisions would prohibit the export, re-export of such items to certain countries and provides for interagency reviews and reporting requirements in order to ensure accountability with respect to the export of satellites and related items. The provisions would maintain the existing security and monitoring provisions of the Strom Thurmond Act.

Note that this doesn’t mean that satellites and related components will immediately come off the US Munitions List (USML), and thus be outside the jurisdiction of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Instead, there will be a review process by the administration, which will determine what items it will seek to move off the USML, and then go through a Congressional notification process. (There may be other steps required as well, depending on the specific language of the conference report.) However, simply restoring to the president the ability to make those determinations, which had been removed by the 1999 defense authorization act, is a significant victory for advocates of export control reform and the broader domestic space industry.

7 comments to A long-awaited big win for export control reform

  • A M Swallow

    Get the committee to ask British firm Reaction Engines Limited (REL) why they have a ban on buying American parts for the Skylon. It may affect which items are removed from ITAR.

  • amightywind

    More discretion by the administration. More government picking winner and losers. More cronyism. More sleaze. Except this time the results will be shot back at us by the Russians and the Chinese.

  • Tregonsee

    The implementation was badly flawed, but the administration at the time gave good reasons for actions being taken. There are even less grounds to trust this one to behave responsibly.

  • Although we are awaiting the formality of a Presidential signature before releasing an official statement, let me just say we worked long and hard to get this passed.

    I personally visited six Senate staff offices this past summer, and others followed with multiple contacts, communications, etc.

    “Three men and a website”, a badge of honor for those who read it a year+ ago, Thank you! TPiS, which now number 2,000+ with volunteer research/policy analysts, engineering/scientist consultants, web production and graphics volunteers, writers and blogger volunteers, 1/2 dozen U.S. regional coordinators, and dozens of state coordinators, we say, ‘job well done’.

    Security concerns were adressed by the House and agreed to by the Senate. Free market principles reign. A return of past U.S. high tech satellite market, a time when the U.S. controlled 85% of such market, now hovering near zero.

    REAL U.S. job creation! Not fake government jobs reports.

    Gary Anderson
    National Coordinator and Director of Operations
    TEA Party in Space
    “Liberty in Space”

  • JimNobles

    I am encouraged. I honestly didn’t think legislation like this would pass anytime this soon.

    Well done guys.

  • Fred Willett

    Twenty years or so ago the US had ALL of the commercial launch business. This past year it has launched exactly 1 commercial sat.
    There is no doubt the original ITAR legislation was designed to protect America, but the results were disasterous for both launch and sat manufacturers.
    Hopefully these changes to the ITAR laws can turn things around for the US launch industry.

    • NeilShipley

      I may be wrong but I suspect that the cost of U.S. launch vehicles was a significant factor in the demise of the business which is still the case today with the exception of SpaceX which is winning back that ‘lost’ business. SpaceX lv’s approx half the cost of ULA’s maybe even less. ITAR laws may have contributed but IMO they weren’t the significant factor so far as the lv’s business goes.

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