New drone export rules could give foreign firms an edge over U.S. industry

"Soft language" in a new agreement governing international armed drone exports could give foreign companies an advantage over U.S. industry, according to analysts.

The administration on Wednesday announced that 44 nations had signed a joint declaration overseeing the sale and use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles. The new document requires the countries to commit to the "responsible export" of armed UAVs and continue conversations about standards for drone use and sales, the use of drone strikes in accordance with "international law" and the effort to increase transparency.

Rachel Stohl, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, said U.S. companies are often subject to higher standards than their international competitors with respect to drone exports.

"This declaration could continue [to] result in other countries and foreign companies having an edge over U.S. companies for drone exports," Stohl said via email. "If the standards in the joint declaration are lower than those regulating U.S. companies, then yes, there could be an adverse impact on U.S. exports."