US Revising Export Rules

Comment period closes soon for ruling on US export regulations.

01 April 2016

The comment period will close 4 April for the second proposed rule for US export regulations covering a wide range of key photonics products and technologies.

The proposed changes are the second set of revisions proposed for the Commerce Control List (CCL) and Category XII of the US Munitions List (USML), which govern many of the optics and photonics commodities covered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and Export Administration Regulations. The rewrite is part of the overarching Export Control Reform initiative undertaken by the Obama Administration.

Although the new proposal is a significant improvement from the rules proposed in May 2015, SPIE has asked companies and universities to still review the proposals carefully for potential impacts, including the Department of Commerce rule, which establishes controls for items moving from the USML to the CCL.

“The changes will have direct and lasting impact on industry and our academic community,” said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.

“Our industry is often described as fragmented because of the myriad of small- and medium-sized enterprises with unique expertise serving niches that are extraordinarily deep technically. The overhead burden for export-control compliance is a challenge to these businesses and to university research laboratories where covered products are used or developed. Well-written regulations that are limited to our highest priorities for control are key to reducing that burden,” he said.

Historically, he said, the US export-control system has fostered an environment where non-US companies with similar products are selling freely — and using the motto “ITAR-Free” to do so.

“These companies are prudently investing the resulting revenue back into their companies, enabling rapid growth,” Arthurs noted. “This scenario comes at the detriment of the US industry’s growth and the high-paying jobs that come with it. More work will always be needed as our industry constantly changes and grows, but it is our hope at SPIE that a final rule will lead US export controls in a more positive direction.”

This second proposed rule utilizes the “specially designed” criteria in many areas, which was a request from industry and SPIE during the 2015 comment period. Jennifer Douris, government affairs director for SPIE, explained that the “specially designed” criteria, which entails a formal review process, “helps ensure that dual-use components are not considered munitions items.”

More information, including slides and audio from the 2 March SPIE webinar on this

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