EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM ON THE UK/US DEFENCE TRADE COOPERATION TREATY
Title of the Treaty
Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the United States of America concerning Defence Trade Cooperation
1. The UK/US Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty, in furthering and protecting the essential security and defence interests of both countries, provides a comprehensive framework for exports and transfers of defence articles, services, and related technical data, including software, in tangible or intangible form, whether classified or not, in support of United States and United Kingdom combined military or counter-terrorism operations, cooperative security and defence research, development, production and support programs and certain security and defence projects where Her Majesty’s government or the United States government is the end-user.
2. In May 2007 the UK and US governments agreed to work towards an agreement to reduce barriers to the movement of defence goods, services and information between the United States and the United Kingdom, including between their defence industries. The Treaty was signed on in London and Washington on 21 and 26 June 2007 by the Prime Minister and the United States President. It allows for the export of defence articles, without a license or other written authorization, from the US to an “approved community” of recipients in the UK and US and the subsequent transfer of these articles within that community without further US authorisation. The Treaty also provides that defence articles exported from the US approved community to the UK approved community cannot be re-exported or re-transferred outside the UK approved community unless that re-export or re-transfer is approved by both governments. In the UK, this will be administered by the Ministry of Defence under the auspices of the Official Secrets Act. The provisions of the Treaty in relation to transfers from the US to the UK mirrors the effect of current practice for authorising UK defence exports to the US, the vast majority of which are covered by UK open licensing arrangements.
3. The Treaty addresses the following subjects: the membership of the approved community in the United Kingdom and the United States, procedures to protect articles received under the Treaty from unauthorised disclosure, procedures for obtaining UK and US government approval to re-export or re-transfer such articles, rules concerning record keeping and notifications related to such articles, mutual arrangements for enforcement of the procedures under the Treaty and arrangements for consultation and dispute resolution.
4. The Treaty is to be supported by a set of detailed implementing arrangements, some aspects of which will be contained in a further treaty.
5. The Treaty only covers defence articles listed on the United States Munitions List. It does not cover the export or transfer of defence articles for use by other nations, nor certain highly-sensitive technologies that will be specified in the implementing arrangements.
6. This Treaty does not affect the UK’s existing international obligations and commitments concerning the export and supply of defence articles.
7. The Treaty is without prejudice to, and does not replace, the current licensing mechanisms for importing US defence articles into the UK. Its provisions allow members of the approved community the choice as to whether to use the mechanisms provided for under the Treaty, or to continue to use current US licensing practice.
8. The United States has subsequently signed a similar agreement with Australia.
9. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has overall responsibility for UK policy relating to the UK’s relations with the United States. The Secretary of State for Defence has responsibility for policy on cooperation with the United States on defence issues. The Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has responsibility for policy on UK export controls and Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs under oversight of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury has responsibility for policy on the enforcement of UK export controls, and undertakes enforcement actions and investigations. The Home Secretary has responsibility for policy related to national security (except in Scotland).
10. Ratification of this Treaty will facilitate simpler, more effective controls on the transmission of military goods, technology and information between the US and the UK for use by the other Governments, making both more capable in military operations. Greater interoperability between UK and US armed forces has been a long standing policy goal for both nations: as well as operating together around the world, there are many existing collaborative efforts between the two countries aimed at developing future defence capabilities.
11. The industry that supports the defence and security efforts of the UK and US is increasingly international, with a particularly strong transatlantic aspect. Many companies have facilities in both America and Britain, supplying both Governments. Improving the means of exchanging defence technology and goods between them will help co-operation at the industrial level to continue to develop.
12. Any costs incurred by either party in the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty will be borne by that party. For the United Kingdom, there are no significant direct financial implications; where minor implications arise for HMG, these will be primarily be borne by the Ministry of Defence but are likely to be offset by the reduced effort needed to secure US licenses relating to key defence projects. There may be some additional costs to industry, but for the most these will be minimal as the Treaty envisages using existing security systems that industry already employ and are familiar with.
13. There are no reservations or declarations.
14. The implementing arrangements, covering the practical details necessary for the operation of the Treaty are currently the subject of negotiation between Her Majesty’s Government and the United States Government.
15. No specific legislation is needed to implement the Treaty, which will enter into force upon notification by both parties that they have completed the necessary domestic requirements to bring the Treaty into force.
16 Relevant Government Departments and Agencies were consulted during the negotiations and gave their approval to the final draft of the Treaty.
17. Further consultations are ongoing with relevant parties, including industry, on the detailed implementing arrangements.
Presented to Parliament