Praise for Satellite Export Reform

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Capitol Building
The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), and the Space Foundation are all praising an amendment in the defense bill that removes satellites and related technologies from the U.S. Munitions List, a key move to allow American satellite manufacturers to compete on the world market.
“This is a remarkable success, achieved by a coalition that included industry, researchers and the foreign policy community. By rationalizing export controls, Congress has simultaneously improved our national security and created an environment that will keep high-tech jobs here in America,” stated Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“It has been very encouraging to see industry, including CSF members, academia, and many others working closely together to find a solution to a regulatory problem that impacts jobs, STEM education, and America’s leadership in space. I look forward to the Senate passage of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] today as well,” he added.
The measure gives President Barack Obama the authority to remove satellites  from the State Department-controlled munitions list and transfer them to Commerce Control List, where they will be regulated as dual-use technologies.
American satellite manufacturers have blamed excessively tight export controls for their shrinking share of the global satellite market, which they had once dominated.  Foreign manufacturers have produced competitive satellites free of U.S. technology.
The House has approved the defense bill, which was worked out in conference committee with the Senate.  If the Senate approves the measure as expected, it will be sent to President Barack Obama for signing. The President is expected the approve the measure.
“It is exciting to see progress on export reform at such an important time for the industry,” said CSF Chairman, Stuart Witt, who is general manager of the Mojave Air and Space Port. “Removing unnecessary regulations will allow companies to spend their valuable resources on testing and developing their technologies, allowing the U.S. to retain its leadership as an innovator. We hope progress in this area will encourage the removal of manned suborbital spaceflight systems from the U.S. Munitions List. These vehicles have innumerable civilian uses, and should be on the Commerce Control List, where many dual-use technologies with predominantly civilian uses are already regulated.”

AIA also applauded Congress “for moving to end the draconian over-regulation of commercial satellite exports.”

“Even if you don’t factor in the threat of sequestration, our space industrial base faces an immediate 22 percent reduction in the national security space budget next year,” said AIA President and CEO Marion C. Blakey.  “Ending this self-imposed burden on U.S. competitiveness in the global commercial satellite marketplace is critical to our national security and to ensuring the U.S. space industrial base stays second to none.”

In a statement, the AIA talked about the damage that has been done to American industry, and noted the need to balance commercial interests with national security needs.

AIA’s report, “Competing for Space: Satellite Export Policy and U.S. National Security,” outlines the devastating impact military-level export controls have had on the U.S. space industrial base since they were imposed by Congress in 1999, particularly the drop in U.S. share of global satellite manufacturing from 65 percent to as low as 30 percent.  The report estimates that U.S. manufacturers lost $21 billion in satellite revenue from 1999 to 2009, costing about 9,000 direct jobs annually. These companies, many of them small- and medium-sized enterprises, can only remain in business and sustain our country’s technological edge in space by accessing legitimate commercial markets.

AIA is committed to an overall export control environment that safeguards our national security but is also predictable, efficient and transparent.  This legislation would free the administration to treat commercial satellite technology like all other regulated technology and propose appropriate adjustments to requirements for export.  We strongly urge passage of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act and hope for quick signature by President Obama.  We appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Congress and the administration to take this important step in the ongoing process to reform the U.S. export control system.

The move was also hailed by the Space Foundation.

“For years, we have watched the U.S. lose ground against global competitors because of the largely unintentional consequences of onerous regulations on space technology for export,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “Now, thanks to the hard work of a number of individuals — most especially Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) — our nation may soon be able to once again vigorously compete in an industry we helped invent.”

“While this achievement has been a long time coming, important steps remain in order to implement this change. We look forward to working with the administration in 2013 to ensure American Space competitiveness is maximized while keeping sensitive tecnologies out of the wrong hands,” said Pulham.

CSF said that many people helped to pass the amendment.

The Commercial Spaceflight Federation thanks Rep. Howard Berman, Rep. Buck McKeon, Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Carl Levin, Senator John McCain, Senator John Kerry, Senator Lugar, Senator Tom Udall, Senator Barbara Boxer, and the staffs of the Senate and House Armed Services, Senate Foreign Relations, and House Foreign Affairs committees, among many others for their leadership on this issue.