70. Likewise, we consider that outreach to export
control organisations overseas is vital in preventing military
and dual-use goods and technologies falling into the wrong hands.
We fully endorse the assessment made by the UK Working Group on
The UK is seen internationally as having one of the
most sophisticated export control systems in the world. It is
to be congratulated for its leadership role in providing active
export control outreach support, especially in non-EU Europe but
also further a field. Other states look to the UK to provide a
lead in this area. Much has been achieved in improving export
control regimes in a number of states in Eastern and South Eastern
Europe, including in terms of persuading the various national
governments of the need to de-link the arms-export decision-making
process from the defence industry.
71. HMRC explained to us that "the planning
[of outreach] is very much driven by the Foreign Office and the
Ministry of Defence".
When he gave oral evidence the Minister of State at the Foreign
and Commonwealth Office, Dr Kim Howells MP, stated:
outreach work to promote effective export control
] extremely important in the fight against proliferation.
EU outreach activities include seminars, visits, covering topics
such as industry awareness, capacity building, customs procedures
and assistance with drafting legislation, which is also very important,
and a good current example of EU outreach work is the EU's 1.5
million pilot project running from 2005 to 2007 on the export
control of dual-use items. We have four nations identified as
key partners in this pilot project: China, the UAE, Serbia and
Montenegro and the Ukraine, and that is proceeding.
The importance of outreach overseas was also underscored
by the Minister, we note, in his speech on the International Arms
Trade Treaty to the United Nations in Geneva on 23 March 2006.
He observed that "the capacity to deal in practical terms
with the provisions of a new treaty has also been raised"
and he acknowledged that "in some cases, where export control
systems are at an early stage of development, countries may need
help with implementation". He declared that "the United
] will be ready to help".
72. In their evidence HMRC identified three types
of activity they had carried out in the past five years:
- [O]verseas outreach, where
we will accompany delegations headed by Foreign Office and/or
MoD and alongside DTI colleagues [
] to various countries
and those countries are chosen [
] by those departments who
ask us to come along to deliver, it can vary what they ask us
to deliver, but it is in the area of making an assessment of that
Customs' enforcement capability and export controls, probably
their Customs' capability, but it might be looking more widely,
it might be collaborating with DTI to look at the whole end-to-end
licensing and enforcement process and to identify capacity building
needs for that country and we have been to a number of EU accession
countries, going back a couple of years, some trans-shipment locations,
such as UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong and others, including Libya
and South Africa and China.
- The second phase is inward outreach where such
states send delegations to the UK hosted by the Foreign Office
or the Department of Trade and Industry and typically we will
attend to give presentations on our approach to export controls,
what we regard as good practice, tips and techniques. Examples
there include the Ukraine, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Pakistan
and Turkey, but we are really driven by the needs as established
by the foreign office and the lead policy departments. That did
include last year in our current building we hosted a one week
training seminar for Libyan export control officials.
- The third element is [
] our contribution
to the four international export control regimes which include
elements of outreach where we are often asked, for example, diplomats
we will say to us, 'We have identified some of the parties/enforcement
officers attending the enforcement experts' meeting, they could
do with particular reinforcement in certain aspects and can you
please help out?'
73. We agree with the assessment made by Mark Fuchter
that outreach is "probably indispensable" and with his
statement that outreach is an essential component "in trying
to improve the security of the supply chain".
We were concerned to be informed that, while HMRC were committed
to winning the battle in the security of the supply chain, they
were less certain about winning the war.
Kevin Franklin, Director, Frontiers Customer Unit, HMRC, explained:
Certainly if you expand upon some of the things that
Mr Fuchter has already mentioned, we are working very closely
with the world customs' organisations on this as well and we have
just signed up to a framework of standards around security and
trade facilitation which has helped to cement the work we are
doing on the supply chain and we are engaged with some 50 odd
projects at the moment in terms of capacity building that is essential
in our drive to win these battles on security issues.
74. We have no doubt that the UK's and the EU's strategic
export controls are enhanced through the provision of assistance
to countries outside the EU to strengthen and develop their export
controls. Not only will it toughen the fight against proliferation
of weapons but also underpin the UK's credentials in support of
the International Arms Trade Treaty. We were impressed by the
range of support which HMRC does, and can, provide but concerned
by the prospect that we might lose the war against those wanting
to bypass effective export controls; we are not altogether surprised
given the limited size of the total staff compliment estimated
at between 60 and 100 full time equivalent staff.
We recommend that:
a) the Government expand the programme of
overseas outreach led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and
supported by HM Revenue and Customs and the Department of Trade
b) review the staff and resources provided
for overseas outreach; and
c) subject to the outcome of any review of
the EU pilot programme, press for a full EU programme of outreach.
In addition, to ensure that provision is made
for staff and resources for outreach to overseas countries, we
recommend that this work be recognised as falling within the core
tasks of licensing and enforcement officers and that budgets and
resources are provided for this purpose, and set out in the annual
report on strategic export controls.