The Bureau of Industry and Security has released new guidance on deemed re-exports which is intended to deal with issues arising when a U.S. company exports technology to a foreign company that then re-exports that technology to its own employees which are not of the same nationality as the foreign company receiving the technology export. The purpose of the guidance is to address certain issues raised by the current export control reform effort and, specifically, to deal with re-exports of technology relating to the newly created 600 series of items that have been transferred from the United States Munitions List (“USML”) to the Commerce Control List (“CCL”).
As the guidance notes, one of the overarching principles of the export control effort is that military items moved from the USML to the CCL should not thereby be subjected to more stringent controls than were applicable to the item when it was on the USML. Under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (the “ITAR”) “technical data” is subject to certain license exemptions permitting technical data, in certain cases, to be transferred without license by foreign companies to their employees who are not of the same nationality as the foreign company. These employees include “third country nationals” who are nationals of countries other than the nationality of the foreign company involved and “dual nationals” which are nationals of two countries, one of which may, but does not necessarily include, the nationality of the foreign company.
The first of these exceptions, found in section 124.16 of the ITAR, allows such retransfer from companies in NATO countries, the EU, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland to retransfer technologies to third country nationals who are also from such countries and subject to certain further conditions. And the other exception, found in section 126.18, permits intra-company transfers of technical data from the foreign company to employees without regard to the country restrictions of 124.16 but subject to certain other restrictions such as requiring the third country national employees to sign non-disclosure agreements and requiring the company to assure that the third country national doesn’t have “substantive contacts” with countries subject to arms embargoes under section 126.1 of the ITAR.
Nothing in the Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) provides equivalent license exceptions to permit the transfer of technology to nationals of NATO countries, the EU, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Switzerland without a license as permitted by section 124.16 of the ITAR. Accordingly, the new guidance indicates that it is the policy of BIS to permit transfers of technology relating to series 600 items without a license if the conditions of 124.16 are fulfilled. Also to the extent that section 126.18 of the ITAR permits transfers to third country nationals outside of the EU, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland if they sign an NDA and are screened for contacts with embargoed countries, BIS will permit similar transfers of series 600 technology.
The situation with section 126.18 is more complicated because section 126.18 addresses an issue under the ITAR that is not a problem under the EAR, namely the problem of dual nationals born in countries subject to arms embargoes. Section 126.18 was designed to deal with the thorny problem of dual nationals under DDTC which require that a dual national should be treated as a citizen of both countries. Accordingly a naturalized U.K. citizen born in China would still be treated as Chinese, and thus ineligible to receive ITAR-controlled technical data even if he had been awarded the OBE by the Queen because, in DDTC’s eyes, that dual national was irrevocably and permanently tainted with Chinese blood. Although such discrimination would be illegal if applied by DDTC in the United States, DDTC saw no problem with applying this rule in foreign countries even if it would, as it often did, violate the human rights laws of that foreign country to discriminate against someone solely based on place of birth. Under BIS rules, in contrast,
a person is treated as a citizen of the country of his or her most recent nationality. A naturalized UK citizen would be treated simply as a UK citizen without regard to the fact that he or she was born in China and was once Chinese. Thus, strictly speaking, the BIS guidance does not need to implement those parts of 126.18 as they relate to dual nationals.
There is, however, one problem relating to technology re-exports for series 600 items where the transfer from the USML to the EAR will subject the technology to more stringent requirements and which is not addressed by this guidance. Under DDTC’s application procedures, a U.S. exporter seeking authority for a foreign company to transfer technical data to its third country and dual nationals, the U.S. exporter need only list the nationalities of the employees. In other words, the U.S. exporter says, for example, that the technical data will be exported to French, German and Mexican nationals. Under BIS application guidelines, however, the U.S. exporter must give the names, passport numbers and addresses for each employee that will receive the technology re-export. In addition to that, a resume for each individual, showing education, employment history and military service, must be provided for each employee.
Over and above the obvious burden of compiling this information in the first place, the U.S. exporter will be required to obtain amendments or new authorizations each time the foreign transferee hires new employees in the affected program area. Under DDTC’s rules, an amendment is required only if an employee with a nationality not previously approved is hired. Granted this burden can be minimized to some extent through reliance on section 126.18, but this may not be possible where the foreign employer is either unable or unwilling to comply with all of the conditions required by section 126.18, including screening employees for contacts with embargoed countries, maintaining records of this screening, and fulfilling the other requirements of section 126.18.