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"Most of the other categories have already been addressed, but the Administration has saved Category XII for last due to its complexity and importance to both industry and the military," said Douris.
Launched in 2009, the ECR initiative was introduced to allow for better protection of what the military would consider to be its ‘crown jewels’ while recognizing the economic realities that are important to industry. This approach, according to Douris, was meant to strengthen our national security while improving the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.
Jim McNally, chair of the SPIE Engineering, Science, and Technology Policy committee, added to these sentiments, suggesting that the ECR revisions to Category XII must allow for future growth of the optics and photonics, while protecting technologies designed for the military.
"Many of the commodities and components controlled by the USML might more appropriately be placed on the Commerce Control List. The reforms will have a direct and lasting impact on industry and our academic community. I urge all parties to participate in the comment period."
Economic impacts seen in the photonics and optics industry are becoming more serious, and the changes within this proposed rule could negatively affect the industry, according to SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs.
"The stakes are high for our industry," said Arthurs. "Outside of a few major contractors, the Department of Defense does not and cannot invest enough R&D funds to sustain and grow businesses. Federal budget actions have kept R&D funding virtually flat, while market opportunity grows rapidly."
Meanwhile, non-U.S. companies developing similar products are selling freely "ITAR-Free," he said.
"Many are prudently investing the resulting revenue back into their companies, feeding the potential for rapid growth," Arthurs said. "This scenario comes at the detriment of the U.S. industry’s growth and the high-paying jobs that come with it."
To help the community understand and comment, SPIE is hosting a webinar on May 12. In addition to the webinar, SPIE hosted briefings at both Photonics West and SPIE DSS to review with community members the proposed changes in detail, including implications for manufacturers, exporters, and research universities.
View the announcement and make a comment here.
View the proposed rule.
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