| COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado May 20 U.S. export
control reforms are helping U.S. companies sell more goods
overseas at a time when U.S. defense spending is declining, a
top U.S. Commerce Department official said.
Commerce Undersecretary Eric Hirschhorn told Reuters that
moving some items from the State Department's tightly controlled
munitions list to the Commerce Department's list of items that
could be more easily exported to allies was speeding up the
export process and helping U.S. companies.
It would also eliminate the ability of U.S. competitors to
market their products as "ITAR-free" or not requiring tough
reviews required under the U.S. International Traffic in Arms
Regulations (ITAR) law, he said in an interview on Monday.
"There is more receptiveness on the part of European allies
to buying parts that are under the Commerce jurisdiction,"
Hirschhorn told Reuters during a conference hosted by the Space
Foundation. "It's a big difference. It used to be the reason for
not using U.S. products."
The Obama administration last year kicked off a series of
changes to simplify export licensing requirements for less
sensitive items and build better protections for the most
critical technologies. Items already addressed include aircraft,
gas turbine engines, military vehicles, and satellites, which
account for over 90 percent of all export licenses.
U.S. aerospace and defense companies including Boeing Co
have long clamored for a streamlined export control
process, arguing that slow processing of license requests has
cost them billions of dollars in sales.
Hirschhorn said the government expects to publish new
guidelines for defense electronics in June but is still working
on other issues, including encryption technology, night vision
equipment, cybersecurity technologies and unmanned vehicles.
Items regulated by the Commerce Department that account for
less than 25 percent of the value of a system are only subject
to export controls if they are going to an embargoed country.
"It really lubricates the system," he said, noting that
companies now knew the conditions for export and most licenses
handled by the Commerce Department took two weeks to process.
He said the U.S. government was working with allies on
possible cyber export controls and was studying the broader
issue of export licenses for unmanned aerial vehicles.
"There's general recognition that there is a future for
these kind of vehicles in the commercial sector and we can't
ignore that," he said. "There are concerns about misuse as well.
It's something that the administration is taking seriously."
Hirschhorn said the administration planned a fairly regular
review of controls to better track of advances in technologies.
Rick Ambrose, who heads Lockheed Martin Corp's space
business, welcomed the export control reform effort, and said it
was already changing discussions with potential foreign buyers.
"It's much different. It's a good step in the right
direction," Ambrose said. "There will be some components that
will have some restrictions, but it will be scaled back and a
little more manageable."
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)