"Providing our allies and partners with greater access to American arms will also reduce their reliance not just on Chinese knockoffs but also on Russian systems, consistent with Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [CAATSA]," Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy David Navarro told reporters.
He also added that the decision is aimed at reverting Obama's "myopic" limitations imposed on US allies willing to buy drones. Navarro said that allowing drones to be marketed more freely, not forcing buyers to apply to the government, will allow US arms companies to better compete with China and Russia.
"The administration's UAS[Unmanned Aerial Systems] export policy will level the playing field by enabling US firms to increase their direct sales to authorized allies and partners," Navarro said.
The chief trade advisor noted that nowadays US allies are forced to but Chinese "knock-offs," claiming that some of the Chinese UAS were copied from US models. According to him, Chinese "replicas" wound up in the Middle East because they were more accessible. Navarro is confident that many US allies want to "buy American" and that opening up the drone market will support millions of jobs inside the country and will help achieve Trump's stated goal to eliminate the trade deficit.
Earlier US officials shared their plans to implement new export rules for the US weaponry seeking to reduce the time required to approve the deals and to lower the bar for major sales of powerful weapons. Now US firms may directly sell their drones abroad, but the deal still must be authorized by the government and the Congress, but overall procedure has been simplified.
Trump signed the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law in August 2017, which prepared ground for new sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia and limited president's ability to unanimously lift sanctions.