President Donald Trump's planning to ease restrictions on US weapons sales overseas has incited concerns that it would flood international markets and inflame feuds in volatile areas like the Middle East. The prepared executive order or presidential memorandum expected to be introduced in the fall by Trump facilitates the State Department and the Pentagon for actively promoting on behalf of American arms manufacturers. A global leader in weapons exports with over half of the world's annual arms deals, this new initiate will make US companies more competitive as allies shop for fighter jets, ground vehicles, warships, missile defenses and other military gear in the growing competitive market. With the US government now also pushing US products, defense firms will succeed in selling more wares internationally leading to more job creation and strengthen the defense industrial base.
A State Department official anonymously stated that they would do everything to promote competitiveness to enhance Americans' interests around the world. This is one of the series of moves planned by Trump to relax former President Barack Obama's restrictions on US military activities. Late in 2015 the administration had launched a review of export regulations governing drone technology to make the path easy for American arms manufacturers to sell in international markets. It has also allowed sales of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia which the Obama government believed was used to kill civilians in the Yemen civil war. Additionally, Trump has also reversed restrictions on arms sales for Bahrain and Nigeria.
The latest data of 2017 shows the net value of US arms transfer notifications getting doubled to $48 billion against the same time in 2016. These include direct commercial sales as well as those done by Foreign Military Sales process under supervision of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency. William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy pondered on the extent of domination desired by US companies. The order may come as early as October.
Officials are currently reviewing the Conventional Arms Transfer Policy which decides rules for selling military-grade weapons to foreign nations. They are also trying to make the International Traffic in Arms Regulations more user-friendly as it is very stagnant since 1984. Lobbying a long time for relaxation in the procuring of export licenses for weapons sales feels the changes are still not enough to remain competitive while many leading industry associations are concerned that the US lead might slip.
Representing many leading arms manufacturers, the National Defense Industrial Association stated that the shifting business and political landscape along with domestic acquisition hurdles are stifling the growth and dominance of the US in the global aerospace and defense export market. Tina S. Kaidanow from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs stated that the initiative aimed to strengthen the defense capabilities of US allies as well as boost and protect US abilities of being a force multiplier for the US war-fighter and create high-quality American jobs.
The administration is also trying to help US companies get a leg up on foreign contracts. NSC stated that the administration aims to remove unreasonable constraints which prevent US companies from competing though they will not harm the US foreign policy interests. It would take steps to prevent sensitive technologies from falling into the wrong hands or used against American troops or interests.