House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon has filed the Conference Report for the FY2013 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4310). Included in the NDAA Conference Report is a provision returning authority to determine appropriate export controls for satellites to the President.
This provision will benefit U.S. manufacturers of satellites—as well as their suppliers and the R&D pipeline—by rationalizing export controls and expanding opportunities for foreign sales. The full text of H. Rept. 112-705 is available here, and the Managers’ statement is available here. The satellite provisions can be found in Title XII (Matters Relating to Foreign Nations), Subtitle E.
The NAM has long advocated for this statutory fix, dating back to the 2009 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on “Export Controls on Satellite Technology” and support for the 2008 CSIS report on the health of the industrial base. Earlier this year, the NAM co-signed a letter to Senate leadership supporting a satellite export control bill introduced by Senator Bennet (D-CO) and actively supported the Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act of 2011 (H.R. 3288) introduced by Reps. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Don Manzullo (R-IL).
Under the new law, commercial satellites (along with their parts and components) will be eligible to transition from the State Department’s restrictive U.S. Munitions List (USML) to the Commerce Department’s more flexible Commerce Control List (CCL). Satellites have been, since 1999, the only technology category designated by law for export control under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Satellites are, therefore, the only technology category that Congress had to proactively release from mandated ITAR control.
The Departments of State and Defense released a report assessing the risk of transferring satellites and space-related items USML earlier this year. The report found, “For the sake of national and economic security, the Departments recommend that authority to determine the appropriate export control status of satellites and space-related items be returned to the President.”
The House will likely vote on the NDAA Conference Report on Thursday afternoon, with the Senate following shortly thereafter. The Administration will have to draft a proposed rule for USML Category XV (Satellites), and then notify Congress, before any items are actually moved from the USML to the CCL. More details about the Administration’s Export Control Reform Initiative, and the other USML Categories that have been published in draft form, can be found online here.
Lauren Airey is director of trade facilitation policy, National Association of Manufacturers.