The UK Government is determined to increase transparency and public accountability on export control issues. The Government's “Transparency Initiative” aims to make public, information regarding so-called “open” export licences, used by many companies to authorise shipments of sensitive products. The most relevant of the proposals are:

  • To insert into all open export licences a provision requiring the exporter to report periodically on transactions undertaken under these licences. The Government will then publish this information.
  • To explore ways of making additional information contained in standard export licence applications public, whilst protecting any sensitive material.

Reporting Requirements Under Open Export Licenses

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

  • Reporting under open export licences will be required on an annual basis.
  • The first reporting period will be the 2014 calendar year and you will need to make your report on 2014 by the end of January 2015 (further guidance will follow on this from the Export Control Organisation). Companies therefore have six months to consider and prepare for issues such as the administrative burden of reporting, the wider impact of disclosing commercially sensitive information and potential reputational consequences.
  • Reports will be made using SPIRE (the export licensing database).
  • You will be able to report on an ongoing basis throughout the year or make a consolidated report at year-end.
  • It is envisaged that the reported information will be made public as part of the Government’s Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls.

What Information Are You Required To Report?

Companies will need to report information in relation to (i) the country of destination for the export(s), (ii) the type of end user and (iii) the number of times the licence has been used for that country/end user type.

There will be no requirement to provide control list classifications or descriptions of the items exported. Helpfully for companies, there is also no requirement to report on exports or transfers of technology.

There are important exceptions to the reporting requirements, which may reduce the reporting burden for your business. The following types of open general licences will not be subject to the new reporting requirements:

Dual-Use Open General Export Licences (Dual Use OGELs)

  • OGEL (Export after exhibition: dual-use items)
  • OGEL (Military and dual-use goods: UK forces deployed in embargoed destinations)
  • OGEL (Military and dual-use goods: UK forces deployed in non-embargoed destinations)
  • OGEL (Exports of non-lethal military and dual-use goods: to UK diplomatic missions or consular posts)

All European Union General Export Authorisations (EU GEAs)

  • EU GEA 001 (EU001) is a reissued and renamed version of the existing CGEA.
  • EU GEA 002 (EU002) – export of certain dual-use items to certain destinations
  • EU GEA 003 (EU003) – export after repair/replacement
  • EU GEA 005 (EU004) – temporary export for exhibition or fair
  • EU GEA 005 (EU005) – telecommunications
  • EU GEA 006 (EU006) – chemicals

Military Goods Open General Export Licences (Military OGELs)

  • OGEL (Access overseas to software and technology for military goods: Individual Use Only)
  • OGEL (Export after exhibition or demonstration: Military Goods)
  • OGEL (Historic Military Vehicles and Artillery Pieces)
  • OGEL OGEL (Exports of non-lethal military and dual-use goods: To UK Diplomatic Missions or Consular Posts)
  • OGEL (Military and dual-use goods: UK forces deployed in embargoed destinations)
  • OGEL (Military and dual-use goods: UK forces deployed in non-embargoed destinations)

Open General Trade Control Licences (OGTCLs)

  • OGTCL (Insurance or Re-Insurance)
  • Other types of Open General Export Licences
  • OGEL (Accompanied personal effects: sporting firearms)
  • OGEL (Government of Sierra Leone)
  • OGEL (Iraq)
  • OGEL (Objects of cultural goods)

Protection of Sensitive Material in Export Licence Applications

Moving forward, when submitting an export licence application, companies will be required to indicate whether any information in their application is sensitive and should not be made public, and give reasons why. In considering whether to release this information the Government has said that it will take the applicant’s wishes into account, but “will not be bound by them”.

It is not yet clear how commercially sensitive information will be treated, or the extent to which information disclosed to the public will be company specific. Information that the Government has stated that it “envisages” will always be considered sensitive is a product’s unit price and its technical specifications, and in some circumstances, the name of the exporter and end-user.

It is also not yet clear whether this initiative is an initial step towards wider transparency, for example the publication of official export control compliance audit reports or wider transparency with regards to publishing details of disclosures of export control violations.