The European Institute hosted a meeting on June 2, 2011 with The Honorable Eric Hirschhorn, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security. In the ten months since Mr. Hirschhorn last spoke at The European Institute, notable progress has been made in the evolution of the Obama Administration’s Export Control initiative. Given the importance of this initiative for the economic and trade relationship that underpins European-American relations, Under Secretary Hirschhorn offered an update on the continuing evolution of export control reforms, and the prospects and challenges that lie ahead.
The Obama administration has started to deliver its promised new system of export controls on military-related technology. The goal of the reform is, as officials put it, “to build a higher fence around fewer, truly sensitive items.”
The European Institute hosted The Honorable Eric Hirschhorn, U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, who discussed the challenges facing the implementation of President Obama’s export control initiative and the implications for the transatlantic trade relationship. Under Secretary Hirschhorn said that the President’s initiative will not only streamline export control processes but will also cut the number of items protected by current controls and require licenses for fewer components. The Under Secretary emphasized that the reforms under consideration should not place any additional legal burden on U.S. companies, and that the Administration's goal is to make the process less cumbersome and more hospitable to growing the export market. Under Secretary Hirschhorn remained hopeful that the U.S. Congress would take up the export control legislation this year, or at the latest, early next year.
The evolution of European and U.S. defense procurement and industrial relations was at the heart of the discussion. Current moves to consolidate the European defense procurement sector may have a lasting impact on transatlantic industrial cooperation, and procurement rules are under examination in the U.S. as well. François Gayet, Secretary General of the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe presented the European industry’s perspective. Robert Bell, Chairman of the NATO Industrial Advisory Group (NIAG) Study Group on Trans-Atlantic Defense Industrial Cooperation and Senior Vice President for European Business Development at SAIC, presented the results of NIAG’s report to NATO. Brig. Gen. Olivier-Pierre Jacquotte, Defense Cooperation Attaché at the Embassy of France, discussed France’s initiatives and plans for the French Presidency of the EU Council. Robert Kovac, Managing Director of the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, U.S. Department of State, addressed progress made so far and challenges ahead for the licensing process. Amb. Robert E. Hunter, Senior Advisor, Rand Corporation and Former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO, moderated the discussion.
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