US to reduce licensing by 80% for UK, Australia to boost AUKUS

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Biden meets with Australian PM Albanese and British PM Sunak at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Commerce Department is scaling back export control requirements for Australia and the United Kingdom to foster defense trade under the three countries' AUKUS security pact, reducing licensing burdens for trade valued at more than $7.5 billion.

Under a rule changed posted by Commerce on Thursday, U.S. export licensing for the UK and Australia will be nearly the same as Canada.AUKUS, formed by the three countries in 2021, is a partnership to enhance security and defense cooperation and address common concerns related to China.

The new rule allows Commerce-controlled military items, missile technology and hot engine items to be exported to Australia and the UK without a license, including certain satellite related items, the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) said in a statement.

The streamlined controls will reduce licensing requirements for exports to Australia and the UK by 80%, or more than $7.5 billion annually, BIS said.

"This is a major change," Kevin Wolf, a Washington-based trade lawyer and former Commerce official, said of the new rules. "It eliminates almost all Commerce export controls on the UK and Australia."

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Writing by Caitlin Webber; editing by Doina Chiacu and Chizu Nomiyama)