A 60-day comment period beginning today is the photonics industry’s opportunity to provide vital input on proposed regulations controlling export of important technologies under Category XII of the U.S. Munitions List, which governs commodities covered by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). The proposal has broad implications for the U.S. optics and photonics industry both now and into the future, say analysts at SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.
SPIE will host a webinar on 12 May to provide information and guidelines on how to comment on the proposed changes – registration is now open.
Comments needed now from photonics industry on revisions of U.S. export rules. As comment window opens, SPIE webinar will advise how to give input on newly proposed revisions in U.S. export control rules.
The U.S. Department of Commerce is accepting comments on proposed new Category XII rules which govern ITAR. The rewrite is part of an overarching Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative undertaken by the Administration, explained Jennifer Douris, a lobbyist for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, and a member of the Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) of the Bureau of Industry and Security in the USDC.
Category XII covers many of the optics and photonics commodities and components controlled under ITAR.
The comment process is seen as the best opportunity for exporters, manufacturers, and researchers to influence revisions in regulations that control photonics exports.
“Most of the other categories have already been addressed, but the Administration has saved Category XII for last due to its complexity and importance to both industry and the military,” Douris said.
The ECR initiative was launched in 2009 with the expressed purpose of building higher walls around fewer items, she explained. “The reasoning behind this was to allow for better protection of what the military would consider to be its ‘crown jewels’ while recognizing the economic realities that are important to industry. This approach is meant to strengthen our national security, while improving the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.”
“I believe that the ECR revisions to Category XII must allow for future growth of the photonics and optics industry while protecting technologies especially designed for the military,” said Jim McNally, chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy (ESTeP) committee. “Many of the commodities and components controlled by the USML might more appropriately be placed on the Commerce Control List. The reforms will have a direct and lasting impact on industry and our academic community. I urge all parties to participate in the comment period.”
SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs noted that the economic impacts being seen by industry are becoming more serious by the day.
“The stakes are high for our industry,” Arthurs said. “Outside of a few major contractors, the Department of Defense does not and cannot invest enough R&D funds to sustain and grow businesses. Federal budget actions have kept R&D funding virtually flat, while market opportunity grows rapidly.”
Meanwhile, he said, non-U.S. companies with similar products are selling freely, and using the motto “ITAR-Free” to do so. “Many are prudently investing the resulting revenue back into their companies, feeding the potential for rapid growth” Arthurs said. “This scenario comes at the detriment of the U.S. industry’s growth and the high-paying jobs that come with it.”