Small Traders Urged to Double-check Exports to Middle East

Following political upheaval in Bahrain and Libya, the Government has ordered an urgent review of export licences for traders shipping goods to both countries.

Despite the trouble, the Middle East remains an important export market for the UK. But the deaths of anti-government protesters in Bahrain’s recent unrest have provoked a formal review of British exports in the region’s trouble spots.

While in the past year various goods, including tear gas and crowd-control equipment, have passed export checks and been licensed, changes in the political situation mean that arms exports are now illegal.

By law, it is up to traders to check their goods with the authorities. And crucially for small firms, exports that may not obviously have a military or political use may now need stricter scrutiny before they leave the UK. Known as “dual-use goods”, even items as apparently harmless as software, baking equipment or building supplies might now need a UK export licence.

All firms that supply any goods that could be used “strategically” – as arms or as part of a campaign of force – must check with the Export Control Organisation (ECO), the military trade licensing department of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, before their shipments leave.

“This Government takes extremely seriously its export control responsibilities.”

said Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt.

“The longstanding British position is clear: we will not issue licences where we judge there is a clear risk that the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression.”

Firms are advised to check with the ECO before considering shipping. Allow plenty of time for export licences to be issued – and don’t move the goods until they are approved.

For more information about export licences, contact the Export Control Organisation by email or call 020 7215 4594

Small Traders Urged to Double-check Exports to Middle East

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