Manzullo: Admin's Risk Assessment on Space Exports Could Bolster U.S. Satellite Manufacturing

From Rep. Don Manzullo (R., 16th District)…

[WASHINGTON] – Congressman Don Manzullo (R-IL), a leader on export control reform in Congress, today said the Obama Administration’s risk assessment of U.S. space exports finally released today could allow more sales of non-sensitive American-made satellites overseas, creating more American jobs.

The findings of the risk assessment from the Secretaries of Defense and State confirm that the following types of American-made satellites should be removed from the more restrictive U.S. Munitions List (USML) and instead regulated with other dual-use items under the Commerce Control List:

  • Communications satellites (COMSATs) that do not contain classified components;
  • Remote sensing satellites with performance parameters below certain thresholds; and
  • Systems, subsystems, parts and components associated with these satellites and with performance parameters below thresholds specified for items remaining on the USML.

“Before 1999, the U.S. share of global satellite manufacturing was 75 percent. But over the past 10 years, it has averaged 44 percent because of Congress’ overreaction in shifting commercial satellite export licensing decisions to the highly restrictive munitions list. That action provided a competitive advantage to foreign satellite makers at the expense of American manufacturers and American workers,” said Manzullo, who Chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.

“The findings of today’s risk assessment shows that there must be a balance in satellite export control policy so we can bolster both our national and economic security and give our satellite manufacturers an opportunity to sell again on a level playing field, creating more American jobs.” Click here to view the complete Administration report.

Manzullo is the lead Republican sponsor of the Safeguarding United States Satellite Leadership and Security Act of 2011 (HR 3288), sponsored by Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), that would restore the President’s ability to determine what export restrictions should apply to commercial satellites and related components. It would also prohibit any such exports to China, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, or Cuba. The legislation is part of Manzullo’s American Jobs Agenda.

In 1998, in the wake of revelations that two American companies provided unlicensed technical assistance to China’s space launch program, Congress mandated that all U.S. satellites and components be licensed as weapons under the USML, severely hampering exports of American-made commercial satellites even to our closest allies. This action was intended to safeguard U.S. satellite technology from reaching China and deny them the ability to launch foreign commercial satellites; in 1999, all foreign commercial satellites had U.S. components, which allowed the U.S. to forbid their launch by Chinese rockets. U.S. share of the global market for complete satellite purchases dropped from 75 percent in 1995 to an average of about 44 percent since the shift of export licensing jurisdiction to the USML under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) controlled by the State Department. As a result, the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) estimated last January that U.S. manufacturers lost $21 billion in satellite revenue from 1999 to 2009, costing about 9,000 direct jobs annually because of treating exports of COMSATs like military weaponry.

“The U.S. remains the only country that controls commercial satellite exports as if they were armaments – by statute,” Manzullo said. “HR 3288 is needed to bolster both our national and economic security and give our satellite manufacturers an opportunity to sell again on a level playing field.”

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