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Proposed Bill Would Amend the Arms Export Control Act and Establish AUKUS Advisor and Task Force: 3 Highlights

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On July 19, 2023, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to ease trade restrictions among parties to the AUKUS agreement—a trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. House Republicans separately have proposed granting the UK and Australia blanket exemptions from requirements under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”), while a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Action for Fiscal Year 2024 from Senate Democrats stops short of blanket exemptions. The McCaul bill offers a compromise—it amends the Arms Export Control Act (“AECA”) to allow the President to exempt select exports of defense items from licensing requirements for countries that meet certain conditions, and requires the U.S. State Department to appoint a senior AUKUS advisor and establish an AUKUS task force.


The AUKUS agreement, initially announced in September 2021, aims to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region with the United States and UK. A White House fact sheet highlights the agreement’s other goals, including cooperation on cyber capabilities, quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, hypersonic and counter-hypersonic capabilities, electronic warfare, and undersea capabilities.

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