Experts advise mil-aero companies on ITAR, export issues

SAN DIEGO, 1 June 2009. "The biggest thing is to understand what laws and regulations apply to your products," said Karen Jones of Xe Services LLP, in the ITAR & Export Issues Panel Discussion during Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum 2009 in San Diego. An interactive panel of experts helped quell some ITAR concerns among defense firms. Being proactive about International Traffic in Arms Regulations can save mil-aero firms a significant amount of money.

By Courtney E. Howard

SAN DIEGO, 1 June 2009. "The biggest thing is to understand what laws and regulations apply to your products," said Karen Jones of Xe Services LLP, in the ITAR & Export Issues Panel Discussion during Military & Aerospace Electronics Forum 2009 in San Diego. Commodity jurisdiction, for example, is important to understand. "What regime do I have to answer to, and what are the requirements related to that?"

Being proactive about International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) can save mil-aero companies a significant amount of money, Jones continued. "It may seem like up-front costs are prohibitive," she said, "but the more proactive you are, the better. Do not wait to get caught and have something go awry, and incur significant cost.

ITAR is manageable. "It's not rocket science," noted Kay Georgi of Arent Fox LLP. Having someone come in, as daunting or uncomfortable it may seem, is a necessary. Don't want to make a mistake later, she cautioned.

Understand how your products and services are classified, Jones strongly recommends.

The legal responsibility for ITAR compliance
falls with your company—as a parts provider, for example—but also ask questions of the primes with which you are working. Ask them how they are classifying the product, Karen recommended.

Dean Young of Celestica Aerospace Technologies Corp., on the panel with Jones and Georgi, suggested companies take care of that at the RFQ (request for quote) stage. "Most of the companies we deal with are the big primes, who have a well-established process. It's not like that everywhere we go." With smaller companies, if and RFQ comes in on a fax machine or an unsecured FTP, the company's executives immediately react to it. "We would like to earn your business, but we can't do it from behind bars," he quipped.

"Make sure you have a plan to protect the information you receive," Georgi noted. "It's essentially a packet of technical information, and you can't send it outside the U.S. or disclose it to foreign citizens. You are responsible for maintaining control over the technical ITAR information that you have—making sure nothing is released to foreign nationals without prior approval."

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