For years, we’ve been telling our clients that one of the primary reasons for export control is U.S. national security. The recent events in Boston give testimony to this priority. Despite what some would have us believe, there are countries and factions of people who want to harm the citizens of the United States, and they’ll even use our own products and technologies to help achieve these despicable goals. I will never forget hearing about the testimony of a U.S. soldier returning from Baghdad who was injured by an IED, only to discover that components of that bomb were “Made in the U.S.A.”
The task of preventing such tragedies is an enormous one. Our military, law enforcement and government agencies have done a stellar job at protecting us post-9/11. Likewise, U.S. and foreign industries have awakened to the fact that it’s possible to have successful business operations while still safeguarding our sensitive products and technologies from getting into the wrong hands. This month, I’m proud to see our government taking a big step forward by implementing some of the reforms in the President’s Export Control Reform (ECR) initiative.
As many of you know, this has been a long and complicated process to bring us to the point of achieving the “four singles” outlined in the administration’s approach. However, it’s very encouraging to see the government taking steps to transition items from the ITAR to the EAR – starting with certain aircraft parts and related products – to pave the way for an eventual move to a single control list. (We have a blog article which goes into more details about these changes and what they mean for companies. You can check it out here.)
Overall, reforms like these will help the United States to be able to focus more resources on protecting and securing the items that matter the most. Individually and collectively, we as export compliance officers are responsible for understanding the reforms and working to make sure we can comply with the new changes. Yes, we still have a long way to go, and unfortunately, there will always be those who place financial gain above the security of our nation. But the net result of ECR will be keeping our nation, and our partner allies, more safe tomorrow than we are today.
Don Buehler is founder and president of Export Solutions, Inc., a consultancy firm which specializes in helping companies comply with ITAR and EAR.