I was asked the other day by a colleague: “What is ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) compliance and why is it important?” So my research commenced. My findings, plentiful to say the least, was that ITAR, along with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), are two of the most important United States Government export control laws.
From the United States Department of State website, ITAR is a set of regulations responsible for the control of the permanent and temporary export and temporary import of defense articles and services. It is ruled by the Department of State and it implements the authority of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), an act that provides the authority to control the export of defense articles and services, and charges the President to exercise this authority.
The list of defense articles and services that are pursuant to AECA are found on the United States Munitions List (USML). The list contains 20 categories ranging from Firearms, Close Assault Weapons and Combat Shotguns to Spacecraft Systems and Associated Equipment. All-in-all there are twenty categories, and a miscellaneous section, of the USML.
So we’ve got the what, but what about the why? Why are export control laws like ITAR important to understand and comply with? Well, the short answer is because there are penalties and fines for those companies that violate ITAR. According to the International Import-Export Institute at Dunlop-Stone University, the U.S. Government requires all manufacturers, exporters, and brokers of defense articles, defense services or related technical data to be ITAR compliant. There are too many instances of major corporations failing to comply with ITAR, or flat out violating the regulations.
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