Trump to ease restrictions on arms exports
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The Donald Trump administration is nearing completion of a new “Buy American” plan that calls for U.S. military attaches and diplomats to help drum up billions of dollars more in business overseas for the weapons industry, U.S. officials said.
Mr. Trump as early as February is expected to announce a “whole of government” effort to ease export rules on purchases by foreign countries of U.S.-made military equipment, from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery, according to people familiar with the plan.
But any loosening of the restrictions on weapons sales would be in defiance of human rights, said arms control advocates.
Envoys as salespersons?
Besides greater use of a network of military and commercial attaches already stationed at U.S. embassies in foreign capitals, senior officials said another thrust of the plan will be to set in motion a realignment of the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. It is a central policy governing arms exports since 1976 and has not been fully revamped in more than three decades.
This expanded government effort on behalf of American arms makers, together with looser restrictions on weapons exports and more favourable treatment of sales to non-NATO allies and partners, could bring additional billions of dollars in deals and more jobs, an official said.
The strategy of having the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department take a more active role in securing foreign arms deals could especially benefit major defence contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co.
The Trump administration has already moved forward on several controversial sales. Those include a push for $7 billion in precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the unblocking of $3 billion in arms to Bahrain.