By Barry Eitel
The White House on Thursday unveiled a plan aimed at bolstering weapons sales to its allies.
The administration of President Donald Trump praised the effort as a way to create jobs in the U.S.
Most notably, the rule change signed by Trump on Thursday allows defense firms in the U.S. to directly sell unmanned armed drones to American allies along with conventional weaponry. Previous rules dictated that drone manufacturers had to go through military officials, the State Department and Congress to make such sales.
Peter Navarro, director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said the new policy regarding the sale of drones, also called “unmanned aerial systems” (UAS), fits in with Trump’s “America First” manufacturing and trade vision.
“The administration’s UAS export policy will level the playing field by enabling U.S. firms to increase their direct sales to authorized allies and partners,” Navarro said in a teleconference with reporters.
“By expanding international sales opportunities, U.S. industry will be further incentivized to do what they do best: invest and innovate. This will keep our defense industrial base in the vanguard of emerging defense technologies while creating thousands of additional jobs with good wages and generating substantial export revenues.”
The White House said it will meet with defense companies over the next two months to examine how U.S. officials can promote weapons sales to allies overseas.
Some of the largest weapons manufacturers in the U.S., including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon
Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, who talked to reporters alongside Navarro, noted that Congress will retain the final decision on all arms sales.
“We are very respectful of Congress’ role in all of this,” Kaidanow said, adding that human rights considerations would be looked at before sales would be approved.