Symposium offers forum for export policies

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In the first public discussion of new federal satellite export policies, industry experts and government officials expressed optimism about the long-awaited reforms and their potential impact on the space-based economy.

The Satellite Export Controls Workshop took place Monday afternoon at The Broadmoor during the 30th annual Space Symposium, addressing the revised rules of the 1999 International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which were published May 13.

“This action marks the end of a 15-year period during which all U.S. satellite exports were licensed as munitions, creating unnecessary constraints on U.S. satellite competitiveness internationally,” according to an announcement by the Commerce Department. “The Administration issued final rules less than 18 months after the U.S. Congress passed legislation permitting satellite export control reform, with bipartisan and bicameral support.”

The revisions were a long time coming for nearby companies that work in satellite-based industries, according to Patricia Cooper, panel moderator and Satellite Industry Association president.

During the workshop, panelists extrapolated upon the issue from five disparate perspectives: federal government, state government, research and analysis, corporate and legal.

Panelists included Carissa Christensen, managing partner of The Tauri Group; Mike Conschafter, senior manager for domestic and international government advocacy of Exelis Inc.’s Geospatial Systems division; Nancy Fischer, partner with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; Lou Ann McFadden, chief of the Defense Technology Security Administration’s Strategic Issues Division; and Jeffrey Trauberman, vice president of Boeing Co.’s Space Intelligence and Missile Defense division; as well as keynote speaker Eric Hirschhorn, under secretary for the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

In his opening speech, Hirschhorn referenced the long road to the publication of new rules and quoted Samuel Johnson’s discussion of a dog walking on its hind legs: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

New rules

The law essentially allows satellites and related items not found to be a threat to defense initiatives to be transferred from the military-based USML to the commercially applicable.

Wheels for instatement of these new rules were set in motion last year with the passage of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which included an amendment that will relax now-stringent U.S. export and licensure policies on select space-related technologies.

Among the items transferred to the CCL under the new rules are a variety of satellite technologies, parts and components deemed by the federal government not to have intrinsic military applications. Such items include communications satellites without classified components, remote sensing satellites, spacecraft parts and components and radiation-hardened microelectronic microcircuits.

The updated rules also allow some commercial, scientific and civil satellites to incorporate parts on the USML while remaining subject to the CCL, which Hirschhorn said is apart from the “one-size-fits-all” regulations of the past.

The impact

When the rules are fully implemented in November, several Springs-based companies that deal in satellite technology will benefit, according to the panelists.

Hirschhorn said the impact of these new rules will affect the trade community in three ways: increased efficiency and security of trade; bolstered company responsibility and compliance; and more effective licensure through the Commerce Department.

“These controls increase national security and will help increase sales,” Hirschhorn said.

Expressing eagerness to work with members of the industry who will be affected by the new policies, McFadden said, “You need to figure out where [the rules] hit your business and where you land.”

She added that the new rules are more clarifications and revisions: They will positively affect the industry by allowing companies like Boeing, Exelis and others operating locally to do business with fewer licenses a different licensure structure.

Conschafter said that companies such as Exelis, which deals majorly in space imaging and remote sensing products, will benefit from the rules in a highly competitive international market.

The panelists said that although the implementation of the new rules will increase accessibility of applicable items, they hope to see the reforms increase compliance and responsibility in the marketplace

“Concerns around the satellite sector have plagued us since the passage of the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act, which required that all satellites and related items be treated like munitions,” Cooper said.

Although items on the CCL are not considered to be munitions-related, as are those on the USML, the rules also prohibit the export of any such items to nations with which the U.S. holds arms-trade embargoes or any known sponsors of terrorism. Such nations include China, Cuba, North Korea, South Sudan and Syria.

“The dialogue between the U.S. government and industry is essential to our success in developing sound public policy that enhances U.S. national security,” Hirschhorn said.