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Australian Perspectives Unveiled: Exploring ITAR from the Australian viewpoint with DDTC

Updated: May 1

On 27 March ECAG hosted Catherine Hamilton, Director of Licensing at the Directorate of Defence Trade Controls (DDTC) in the United States Department of State on a webinar with Australian industry, Government and academia. Catherine spoke frankly about the structure, mandate and policies of DDTC, and how it went about its job as the arbitrator of the ITAR. Catherine answered the questions posed by Australian industry and academia, to which attendees received frank and detailed technical responses tailored to the Australian ITAR compliance landscape.

The questions posed by attendees were specific to the Australian ITAR compliance context. The questions and answers highlighted the need for ongoing open discourse to support Australian industry and academia understand and manage ITAR compliance. Questions and topics discussed included:

  • The proposed rule-making on the Regular Employee definition and the next steps for DDTC to consider and implement the rule

  • How to interpret clauses in Technical Assistance Agreements (TAAs) for Australian licensees and sublicensees

  • How to consider Manufacturing License Agreements (MLAs) and the subsequent ITAR capture of manufactured products

  • How to consider the ITAR status of items manufactured in Australia under an MLA for the purpose of destruction, disposal or change in end-use

  • When domestic and international freight forwarders need to be authorised by DDTC, and the appropriate mechanism for authorisation

  • DSP license amendments and when these are required

  • “In-furtherance” of licenses for access to ITAR hardware and when these should be used in support of a TAA

  • US Persons Abroad ITAR requirements as they exist currently, and possible future carve-outs under the anticipated AUKUS Australia exemption

  • How to shape an advisory opinion request (and how not to!) to get the best answer from DDTC.

The sixty-six attendees also had the privilege of hearing a first-hand update and perspective from Catherine on the AUKUS exemption for Australia. Catherine spoke about the time, effort and complexity involved in progressing the mandate of the FY24 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to determine and certify whether Australia and the United Kingdom have comparable export control systems that would make them eligible to receive a US export controls exemption.

Catherine spoke about the strictly stipulated timeframes in which the United States Department of State had to certify the Australian and United Kingdom export control systems. In particular, the efforts of the policy teams within the Department of State and the time and effort dedicated by the Australian and United Kingdom government representatives to ensure these efforts progressed in the right direction for the entire AUKUS partnership.

Importantly, Catherine touched on the upcoming first certification deadline and the Department of States' absolute commitment to getting the exemption for Australia and the United Kingdom, saying,

“the first certification is due on April twentieth, and if we [The US DoS] don’t certify positively in that certification, we are required to certify again every hundred and twenty days until we are able to get to yes. So that is a huge herculean task. It’s very complex and requires a lot of work and coordination among all three countries, as well as the inter-agency and partner and allied efforts to get it right.”

ECAG thanks Catherine for generously giving her time to support and update Australian industry and academia on the ITAR, and we look forward to hosting Catherine again in the future.

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