Canada’s $3 billion frigate modernization program, which specifically aimed to exclude American technologies from key areas, was just one example of a growing problem for American defense firms. Major players in the defense industry have been pushing for years to change US ITAR export controls. Unfortunately, the USA’s use of export controls for protectionist and political purposes has had a predictable effect, and made American defense components toxic to some potential export customers. Even as cumbersome rules, and a slow American bureaucracy, add additional layers of export control across more than 3 different agencies. The end product is significant friction for important international deals, impediments to partnerships with friends and allies, and erosion of global market share for American defense products.
On April 20/10, American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, backed by several other departments, crystallized a reform push that has been underway for years. The proposed “4 singles” approach would make significant changes to American technology export controls. Nor is that the only initiative underway: