Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revised U.S. Export Rules May Ease Overseas Sales

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to announce export control reforms Aug. 31 that would make it easier for U.S. companies to sell many military and dual-use technologies abroad.

The White House announced Aug. 30 that Obama would unveil a new export control system to decontrol about a third of the items on the U.S. Munitions List and move many others to the more lenient jurisdiction of the U.S. Commerce Department.

"Our preliminary analysis is that about 74 percent of the 12,000 items we licensed last year in this Munitions List category will either be moved to the Commerce Control List or will be decontrolled altogether," a White House statement said.

"About 32 percent of the total may be decontrolled," the statement said.

The current Munitions List is to be replaced by a three-tiered list. The highest tier would include critical military and intelligence technology that is available almost exclusively from the United States. These items would continue to be tightly controlled and require export licenses.

A second tier would include critical defense and intelligence technologies that can be bought from U.S. companies and U.S. allies. Many of these items could be exported to allies under license exemptions.

The third tier is for technology that is widely available. For these items, licenses may not be needed.

The announced changes won praise from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both organizations have lobbied for years for export control reforms.

"The restructured list shows great promise in assigning the appropriate level of protection to technology exports across all levels of risk," said Marion Blakey, AIA president. It also promises "substantial potential savings in time and compliance costs to U.S. exporters," she said.

Myron Brilliant, the Chamber of Commerce senior vice president for international affairs, said "U.S. small and midsized companies will welcome these reforms because overly complex export controls sometimes deter them from even trying to sell their goods abroad."

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