Archive for the ‘Export Reform’ Category


Sep

22

Export Control Reform Arrives (Soon?) For Small Arms


Posted by at 4:00 pm on September 22, 2017
Category: BISDDTCExport Reform

Gun Show by M&R Glasgow [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/EfXLa [cropped]Rumors have begun to circulate that export control reform is coming to USML Category I small arms despite thoughts that this might never happen. The reporters in this Reuters article, who clearly have little background in export policy and reform, have fallen on their fainting couches, clutched their pearls, and conjured up terrifying images of an out-of-control international arms bazaar that will result. This is, of course, silliness. Thousands of items have transitioned from the USML to the 600 series of the Commerce Control List without military items falling willy-nilly into the hands of foreigners.

There are two issues I think are worthy of comment without histrionics. The first relates to brokering issues. I have been a critic of DDTC’s brokering rules, not because of their concept, but mostly because of their implementation. The rules have been improved by restricting the registration and licensing requirements to brokers who are U.S. citizens or who are located in and acting from the United States. But I think that potentially removing small arms shipments from the restrictions of the brokering rules is not necessarily a good idea. Remember that the reason that these were passed in the first place was that U.S. persons were shipping small arms from foreign countries to regional disputes and rebellions outside the United States where those arms were used for genocide or otherwise against the foreign policy of the United States. The EAR has no controls on brokering and would not control export of foreign-manufactured arms (without U.S. content) to areas outside the United States by U.S. citizens or persons in the United States. The brokering issue is negligible when we talk about other transitioned items, like certain military aircraft parts. But the issue is front and center when it comes to small arms.

Another interesting effect of transitioning small arms to the CCL, and one that will be probably a beneficial one, relates to the issue of providing firearms training to foreign persons. As it stands, the definition of defense services in section 120.9 covers ” training … foreign persons … in the … maintenance, … operation, … or use of defense articles.” So a U.S. person could not show a foreign person how to clean a rifle but could provide a copy of the publicly available rifle manual with cleaning instructions to the foreign person. After transition of the rifle as a 600 series item to the EAR, since the information on how to clean the rifle is published, a U.S. person could show the foreign person how to clean the rifle rather than just provide a copy of the manual. This, of course, seems a much more sensible result.

Photo Credit: Gun Show by M&R Glasgow [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/EfXLa [cropped]. Copyright 2007 M&R Glasgow/span>

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Apr

11

Un Pour Deux, Deux Pour Un! (An ECR Swashbuckler)


Posted by at 11:26 pm on April 11, 2017
Category: DDTCExport Reform

Brian J. Nilsson via https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/biog/bureau/250013.htm [Public Domain]
ABOVE: Brian J. Nilsson

Many readers were likely wondering what impact the Trump Administration’s new one-for-two executive order would have on export control reform. As you probably know, that is the order that says for every new rule adopted by a federal agency two other rules must be thrown out — sort of like a closet cleaning rule: for every new shirt I buy, two old ones need to be donated or thrown out.

Well, never fear. At the last DTAG meeting, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade Controls Brian H. Nilsson said that this new rule would somehow not apply to DDTC rules and that the agency was moving ahead on export control reform unencumbered by the order, or at least that’s being reported by those who attended the meeting. As much as I would like to believe this, particularly inasmuch as Categories I, II and III of the United States Munitions List have still not gone through the export control reform process, I am filing Deputy Assistant Secretary’s statement under “wishful thinking”(if not under “alternative facts”). The Executive Order itself lists no exemptions whatsoever. Now that doesn’t mean that some time in the future someone might realize how silly such a rule is and put another Executive Order with some exemptions to the one-for-two order in front of the President for him to sign.

But until that happens, DDTC can’t amend any part of the USML without slashing two rules for each one added. Oh, and by the way, is anyone else wondering how the counting of rules is done here? If section 121.1 is amended to provide a new version of, say, Category I, II and III, what exactly has to be sacrificed on the altar of the executive order? After all only subsection 121.1(b)(2) of the rule set forth 121.1 would be altered. Does DDTC have to ditch two entire rules, like, say, sections 129.3 and 130.1 (my nominees  for jettisoning) or can it get away with ditching two subsections, such as  128.7(a)(3) and 123.22(c)(1), both of which no one would ever miss?

UPDATE:  As pointed out by commenter TJ below, the Executive Order does indeed exempt “regulations issued with respect to a military, national security, or foreign affairs function of the United States.”  So ECR is safe for the moment, although my query as to how rules are counted for purposes of the one-for-two rule remains valid in other contexts.

 

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Feb

11

With All Eyes on Sochi, Russian Ears Are on Ukraine


Posted by at 8:49 pm on February 11, 2014
Category: BISCCLExport ReformSurreptitious Listening Devices

Kremlin.ru [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commonshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AVladimir_Putin_at_the_Millennium_Summit_6-8_September_2000-19.jpg

The continuing violence and political instability in Ukraine have raised concerns around the world, especially within the United States and the EU.  Whether some form of sanctions against current officials in the Ukrainian government should be imposed has been debated over the past several weeks, including reports that the Obama administration began preparing financial sanctions against current Ukrainian government officials last month.

Sanctions against Ukrainian officials are, of course, a delicate diplomatic endeavor for EU countries that not only trade extensively with Ukraine but also recognize the effects to EU-Russian relations with any rancor that develops by proxy in former Soviet states.  Such targeted EU or U.S. sanctions, moreover, amount to blocking funds that are unlikely to be found in large amounts in Western banks and a travel ban on individuals who were not likely to travel to the West in the near future in any event.

The telephone conversation posted to YouTube late last week between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, however, exposed just how heated a resolution in Ukraine is becoming between the United States and the EU.  In discussing how officials from the United Nations may assist in reaching a resolution between the current Ukrainian government and opposition leaders, Nuland has now infamously said, “f**k the EU,” presumably an expression of her view that EU involvement thus far to address the situation in Ukraine has been inadequate.  As if that were not enough for diplomatic missteps, it has also been reported that Nuland and Pyatt each used unencrypted cell phones during the conversation.

While the fallout of Nuland’s comments and the Obama Administration’s finger-pointing at Russia for its involvement in hacking the phone call will garner the headlines, the issue also presents an interesting juncture for a shadowy subject of U.S. export controls: surreptitious listening devices.

As we first reported over seven years ago, BIS has not always been sufficiently clear on its standards for classifying surreptitious listening devices that are subject to the EAR’s control under section 742.13.  In Export Control Reform materials presented by BIS last year, BIS articulated five questions to assist exporters in answering the ultimate question, “Is my item subject to the 742.13 Communications Interception policy?”  Those questions, however, don’t help advance the ball much in improving a U.S. exporter’s ability in classifiying surreptitious listening devices short of seeking clarification or a license from BIS.

The United States may never determine what devices were involved in intercepting the Nuland-Pyatt conversation.  Moreover, the “tradecraft,” as Nuland described the interception, may very well continue to develop in ways that outpace any technical specifications that BIS affixes to surreptitious listening devices.  Without further clarity, however, U.S. exporters will still be mostly in the dark about what items require a U.S. export license at the same time that BIS will likely crank up the breadth of its controls over exports of surreptitious listening devices.  But if clarity is a hallmark of Export Control Reform, a little more with respect to surreptitious listening devices would go a long way.

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Copyright © 2014 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)

Nov

7

Naming Names


Posted by at 10:09 pm on November 7, 2013
Category: BISDDTCDeemed ExportsExport Reform

By MediaPhoto.Org (mediaphoto.org Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ARussian_passports.jpgThe 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.

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Sep

9

Export Control Reform Roundtable in Dallas


Posted by at 9:06 pm on September 9, 2013
Category: Export Reform

On Wednesday, my colleague Susan Kovarovics will be in our Dallas office conducting a roundtable on export control reform. The roundtable will discuss the current status of export control reform, particularly the transitioning of certain items from the USML to the CCL, and the steps that exporters should begin to take to be prepared for the new rules. Details on the subjects to be covered, the location of our office in Dallas, and how to reserve a place can be found here.

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Copyright © 2013 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)