Caroline Atkinson, deputy national security adviser for
international economics, said an inter-agency working group had
already modified regulations for 13 of 21 categories on the U.S.
Munitions list, which together account for about $80 billion in U.S.
exports and support about 450,000 U.S. jobs.
The items already addressed include aircraft, explosives, gas
turbine engines, missiles and military vehicles — accounting for
about 90 percent of all export licenses.
This year, the U.S. government aimed to finish rewriting the
munitions list, expand the capacity of a multi-agency enforcement
center, and create a single licensing database for companies seeking
to export goods, Atkinson told an event hosted by the Center for
Strategic and International Studies.
She said the group also planned to tackle export issues associated
with encryption, cloud computing and cybersecurity, and sort out
definitions for terms such as "public domain."
The Obama administration last year announced the first of a series
of changes aimed at simplifying export licensing requirements for
less sensitive items and building better protections for the most
U.S. companies have long clamored for a streamlined export control
process, arguing that slow processing of export licenses have cost
them billions of dollars in lost sales that have gone to foreign
"Export control reform remains a priority for the president,"
Atkinson said, adding that the concerted efforts under way across
the government were aimed at improving both U.S. national security
and economic security.
Tom Kelly, acting assistant secretary of state for political
military affairs, stressed that items formerly on the lists of
controlled weapons were still subject to oversight and controls
under the Commerce Department's list.
"Our goal at the end of the day is an agile, dynamic export control
regime that is responsive to today's and tomorrow's national
security and foreign policy challenges," Kelly said. "These new
controls are going to reduce bureaucracy, they are going to
accelerate goods to market for close allies and security partners,
and they're still going to maintain a very high level of scrutiny
over arms exports."
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Tim Hoffman, deputy director of the Defense Technology Security
Administration, the Pentagon office that oversees technology
security policies, told the event the various agencies involved in
the effort were working together better than ever and finding
increasing "convergence" on issues.
The Defense and State departments were already using the same
computer system, and would soon be joined by the Commerce
Department, which would give all three agencies a "common operating
picture" as they addressed export control issues.
Once work was completed on the munitions lists, the agencies
involved would work on building a single portal for companies to use
when requesting permission to export items.
Kevin Wolf, assistant commerce secretary for export administration,
told the event that he and other government officials were working
hard to explain the changes to industry, and to understand and
correct any issues that arose.
He said the government expected to publish proposed changes for
satellite exports this spring, followed by modifications for exports
of electronic equipment in the early summer.
He said while some satellite exports would be eased by shifting them
off the munitions list, restrictions would remain in effect for
commercial spaceflight, which remains governed by the Missile
Technology Control Regime (MCTR), a voluntary set of controls
established in 1987 to avoid proliferation of nuclear, chemical and
Wolf said U.S. officials were aware of industry's concerns about
excessive restrictions on exports of unmanned planes, the largest of
which are also covered by the MCTR, but had not yet tackled that
issue in any great detail.
(Editing by Ken Wills)
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