EXPORT LICENSINGPROPOSED SELF ASSESSMENT
1. The idea behind this is not, of course,
that companies should themselves become independent arbiters of
foreign policy and decide whether licences should be granted for
export of their products! The concept is rather that companies,
as with individuals in respect of income tax returns, should increasingly
apply a corpus of known regulations so as to reduce to an absolute
minimum the number of cases which have to be decided on an individual
basis by DTI and other government departments. The other half
of the idea is that DTI resources would be freed up for ensuing
compliance through random audit of companies's records and systems,
the former to ensure historical compliance, the latter to ensure
that firms have the capacity both to absorb and comply with future
2. There is nothing particularly radical
about either of these points: both are well established in DTI
philosophy and practice. Moves towards both goals are consistent
with export control in a post cold-war world where controls are
increasingly operated for a wide variety of reasons and against
a wider range of destinations than merely the old-Soviet bloc,
and where ensuring compliance is, for that reason, more complex.
3. To reduce the number of individual licence
applications requires the maximum use of both OGELs and OIELs,
not just for dual purpose, but also for military products. In
practice it is OIELs which must have the greatest untapped potential.
Exporters should be encouraged to seek these for as large a percentage
of their current and future exports as possible, by reference
to both current and prospective customers. Such OIELs should be
wide enough, for example, to cover sales via agents/distributors
and sales of follow-on spares.
4. Enforcement via inspection at consignee's
premises is consistent with the parallel development in customs
practice (itself the result of the 1992 EU Single Market) away
from inspection at ports towards inspection at exporters' premises.
The emphasis on exporters' control systems (currently mainly an
issue for those firms with military OIELs) would also be logical
once a greater percentage of exports were to be covered by these.
This also recognises that, in the case of most reputable exporters,
there is a far greater chance of technical infringements as a
result of failure to understand the regulations or failure to
apply these, than through deliberate evasion of controls.
5. If companies are to have greater responsibility
for operating the system, the rules themselves must be better
presented and easier to understand. There is still considerable
work required to make the system user-friendly, rather than the
present unhappy combination of technical description tied up in
"legalese". Again, taking tax legislation as the model,
something akin to the proposed re-write of tax law is needed.
6. Within DTI, the status and standing of
the Export Control Organisation needs to be enhanced. Staff also
need first hand experience of industry if they are to be capable
of understanding the industrial perspective on all this.