Mikel Williams, president and CEO of DDi Corp. and chairman of the IPC Government Relations Committee, recently testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs—on behalf of the Association Connecting Electronics Industries—to underscore the importance of clear and appropriate U.S. export controls on printed circuit board (PCB) designs for sensitive military technologies.
The Committee on Foreign Affairs held the hearing on February 7 to consider industry perspectives on export control reform, including proposals now being contemplated by the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce.
“Reform of the current export control system is long overdue, and IPC supports reform and the opening of foreign markets to our manufacturing companies,” Williams noted during his testimony. “The current system is complex, bureaucratic, and does not adequately protect our national security nor facilitate the export opportunities we need to grow our economy.”
Williams went on to explain that PCBs are not listed explicitly in the United States Munitions List (USML) under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). As a result, there is confusion in the larger defense industry about the export controls that apply to PCBs and PCB designs for ITAR items. In addition to seeking clarification of the rules, IPC wants proper controls in place to ensure that U.S. national security is not compromised through the release of technical information related to PCBs and the military equipment for which they are designed.
“Each PCB is specifically designed and, therefore, contains a roadmap of the operation of the USML item for which it is custom-designed,” Williams stated.
IPC’s testimony follows comments the nonprofit trade association filed with the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) in December 2011 on revisions to five categories of the United States Munitions List (USML). In its comments, IPC strongly recommended that DDTC make clear that ITAR apply to any PCB designs for defense items on the USML. IPC also urged the DDTC to specifically address PCBs in its rulemaking for Category XI (Electronics), saying that the revision of the USML provides “the best opportunity to eliminate all confusion regarding the treatment of PCBs under ITAR.”
For more information on IPC’s advocacy efforts on U.S. export controls reform, contact Tony Hilvers, IPC’s vice president of industry programs, via e-mail.