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Big Prez Export Changes Not Likely

The aerospace and defense industries continue pushing arms export reform hard but several well-place sources within the industry say very little change is likely to happen in the next year.

In the latest thrust, President Obama announced the beginnings of a yet another review of the Munitions List, which describes which weapons and parts are subject to the control of the State Department, and of the Department of Commerce's version.

A statement from the Aerospace Industries Association included the requisite quotes from its increasingly impressive head, Marion Blakey. "The USML today uses broad criteria that subject essentially commercial technology to the highest level of scrutiny and control. This needlessly delays approvals for exports going to our battlefield allies as well as our closest business partners overseas.  Rationalizing these technology lists will support our national security interests by bolstering our security partners and strengthening the global competitiveness of the U.S. high technology industrial base," she said.

The list revision was unveiled after Obama met with his Export Council, chaired by James McNerney, chairman and CEO of Boeing.

There may be excellent reasons for streamlining and -- eventually -- merging the Munitions List and the Commerce Control List, but at several venues over the last week senior industry leaders with much experience with arms export policies, laws and regulations said the administration has little chance of achieving much more than have previous administrations have done: increase transparency, trimming the two lists, adding more people to do the tedious, exacting and important work associated with arms exports.

The ambitious goals of merging the two control lists and creating a single agency to oversee arms export licensing are dead, these experts said. Combine the administration's loss of congressional friends with the perceived weakening of the president, add large doses of congressional skepticism to such far-reaching changes and these experts said they saw little hope of major change any time soon.

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