A report commissioned by the departments of Defense and State suggests lawmakers should relax satellite export controls for non-critical items to increase U.S. industry’s ability to compete in the global market.
The report examines the effects of a law passed in 1998 that restricted companies from exporting sensitive technologies to other nations.
The law resulted from accusations that company’s were giving China access to U.S. technology, which could have aided in development of the nation’s military missile programs, the report notes.
The Pentagon-State report suggests there are limited national security benefits resulting from the 1998 law, which applies to satellites that could have civilian and military use.
John Ordway, an export-licensing attorney based in Washington, told Bloomberg that companies such as Northrop Grumman, Boeing, L-3 Communications and ATK could benefit from eased controls.
The law requires the government to protect commonly available satellites, which slows the government’s ability to work with partners and puts U.S. manufactures at a disadvantage, the report said.
The report suggests Congress should remove strict license requirements from subsystems and remote-sensing satellites that do not meet specific performance parameters.
According to Gregory Schulte, deputy assistant defense secretary for space policy, the report includes a list of items that should and should not remain in the control list that has hundreds of thousands of items.
The report suggests GPS equipment and radiation-hardened circuits should remain under strict controls since they both have military applications.
The ultimate aim of the report was to conclude whether the current control system was harming U.S. competitiveness in the space market, which the report indicates is in fact the case.
The report claims the law in place puts the U.S. at a distinct competitive disadvantage when bidding against other companies with less stringent export control rules.
A bill supported by Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Don Manzullo (R- Ill.) would supersede the 1998 law and reform the current export controls to focus on national security threats such as Iran, North Korea and China, Berman said.
The report specifically addresses China and suggests the U.S. should continue monitoring the nation’s acquisition of dual-use technologies.
Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion Blakey told Bloomberg Congress should act to ensure the U.S. space industrial base remains viable, noting that the national security space budget is set for a 22 percent reduction.