ECR Seeks ITAR Control Over Commercial Optics

The President’s Export Control Reform (“ECR”) Task Force released proposed rules yesterday that seek to subject a vast array of commercial optics items and technology to restrictive export controls under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). [F/N 1] Many of the items and technology subject to the proposed transfers are readily available from foreign manufacturers abroad.

The Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security held a teleconference today to discuss the proposed changes and answer written questions. The call largely consisted of an agency representative discussing what appeared to be prepared remarks. Only one written question was read, which essentially asked why the government wants to subject commercial optics technologies readily available abroad to ITAR control given the lesson learned from imposition of similar controls on the United States commercial communications satellite industry.

As previously discussed on DTL Blog, when it comes to our domestic space industry, there is no shortage of reports on the billions in lost revenue, thousands in lost jobs, and offshoring of research, development, and production caused by the imposition of ITAR controls over the commercial communications satellite industry. [F/N 2] It appears that the ECR Task Force is now intent on repeating this mistake for the United States optics industry.

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[1] “Revisions to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR): Control of Fire Control, Range Finder, Optical, and Guidance and Control Equipment the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control Under the United States Munitions List (USML),” 80 Fed. Reg. 25,798 (May 5, 2015); “Amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: Revision of U.S. Munitions List Category XII,” 80 Fed. Reg. 25,821 (May 5, 2015).

[2] See e.g., “U.S. Space Industry “Deep Dive” Assessment: Impact of U.S. Export Controls on the Space Industrial Base,” Bureau of Industry and Security Office of Technology Evaluation, February 2014.


*The above is not intended as an exhaustive list of restrictions that may apply to a particular transaction nor advice for a specific transaction because the specifics of an individual case may implicate application of other U.S. laws as well as foreign laws that carry added or different requirements.  In addition, U.S. export control and sanctions laws are frequently subject to change.  Such changes can affect the continued validity of the information above, which is based on U.S. law existing as of May 6, 2015. For these reasons, assistance from a qualified attorney competent to advise on such matters is highly recommended.

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