US to exempt Australia and UK from its International Traffic in Arms Regulations

May 23, 2024

May 23, 2024

A Los Angeles-class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) tied up alongside Diamantina Pier at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia (Courtesy Australia Defence Forces)
A Los Angeles-class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) tied up alongside Diamantina Pier at Fleet Base West, HMAS Stirling, Western Australia (Courtesy Australia Defence Forces)

The US has announced plans to exempt its AUKUS partners, Australia and the UK, from its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). In addition, the US Commerce Department also announced an expansion of the scope of licence-free trade to AUKUS nations by amending the Export Administration Regulations on 18 April 2024.

The department cited the need “to enhance technological innovation among the three countries and support the goals of the AUKUS Trilateral Security Partnership”.

This followed the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed in December 2023. The NDAA set specific criteria for the Australian and British governments to meet before the exemptions took effect.

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These reforms are expected to significantly reduce licensing requirements for the UK and Australia as well as facilitate public and private sector security institutions’ delivery of a more integrated defence industrial base.

While the specific parameters have not been announced, the new exemptions that will remove licensing requirements for “most military goods and technology items” are expected to reduce the burden associated with US export licenses for dual-use goods to Australia worth almost $2 billion (AUS $3.1 billion). his appears to include both Pillar I submarine components and Pillar II advanced technologies.

The Australian government responded with its law in March of this year, offering an exemption for the UK and US from export control permit requirements. This exemption is expected to take effect in September 2024.

Similarly, the UK will release its Open General Export Licence in September 2024 to implement the exemption for Australia and the US.

These US reforms are occurring as the AUKUS roadmap progresses, with news that British company Rolls-Royce has started producing components for the nuclear reactor to be installed in the first SSN-A, a nuclear-powered attack submarine.

However, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) noted that despite reaching the 120-day milestone set by the NDAA, the UK is in the process of finalising the remaining technical steps in order to benefit from the NDAA provisions.

“We are confident that by the next 120-day period we will have completed all the requirements for full implementation of the ITAR exemptions,” said the UK MoD in a release welcoming the reforms.

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May 23, 2024

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