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Berlin Conference approves UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol

Berlin, Germany: Delegates of International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) and its 63 member states approved UNIDROIT Space Assets Protocol during Berlin Conference. However, the European Satellite Operators’ Association (ESOA), the US Satellite Industry Association (SIA), the Space Industry Association of Australia, the Canadian Satellite and Space Industry Forum, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia and the Global VSAT Forum strongly opposed it.   The global satellite sector continues to show unprecedented unity in its opposition to the Protocol. Earlier, nearly 100 companies and trade associations signed a letter to the UNIDROIT Secretary General expressing concerns regarding the draft Protocol. Signatories included established and start-up satellite operators on all continents, most of the world’s satellite manufacturers and launch providers, the major satellite insurance brokers and underwriters, many banks participating in the satellite sector, and the major satellite and space-related associations.   “It is disappointing that the Berlin Conference moved ahead with a Protocol on space asset financing, over the clear and unified opposition of those involved in the actual business of constructing, launching, operating, insuring and financing communications satellites,” said Patricia Cooper, President of SIA. 
Brett Biddington, Chairman of the SIAA, noted “The potentially adverse consequences of the Protocol – especially for manufacturers and smaller, start-up satellite operators – should have been a guiding consideration in the Protocol’s adoption.” 
Simon Twiston Davies, CEO of CASBAA said: “This new layer of supra-national law can only make the financing of new satellite projects more difficult and expensive, including those planned by developing nations to serve their citizens.”   
Aarti Holla, Secretary General of ESOA, said: “The Protocol comes at a time when the industry benefits from a robust and highly successful satellite financing market. We will now work with our colleagues in the satellite industry on other continents to inform nations of the negative impact of the Protocol on this market as they consider ratification.” 
David Hartshorn, Secretary General of the Global VSAT Forum, said: “We hope that States will note the concerns of the global satellite industry and not ratify the Protocol. If they do, it will increase the cost of financing and make it extremely difficult for developing nations to benefit from the delivery of satellite services.” 
Source: ESOA