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US, UK and Australia further boost defence trade cooperation

The US Department of Commerce has announced that Australia and the United Kingdom are being provided with a national exemption from the Export Administration Regulations. This will come into effect in September 2024 and reduce the burden associated with US export licences for dual-use goods to Australia, valued at almost USD$2 billion ($3.1 billion).

The decision by the United States Department of Commerce to establish a licence‑free dual‑use export environment amongst and between AUKUS partners is another step towards establishing a seamless environment for innovation, cooperation and collaboration. A licence-free environment between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will revolutionise collaboration and enable unprecedented levels of scientific, technological and industrial cooperation and co-development, says the Australian Department of Defence.

It follows the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024 in December 2023 that established a full national exemption for Australia and the United Kingdom from United States export control licensing requirements for military end use items.

This US action is complemented by the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act 2024 that passed through the Australian Parliament in March 2024. The Act provides a reciprocal national exemption for the United States and United Kingdom from Australia’s export control permit requirements.

Australia will shortly release amendments to the Defence Trade Controls Regulation 2013 and Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 for public consultation. The proposed amendments to the regulations will give effect to specific elements of the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act 2024.

The United States Department of State will also release the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) for public consultation, which will give effect to the exemption for Australia and the United Kingdom from ITAR. And the United Kingdom will release its Open General Export Licence in September 2024 to give effect to the exemption for Australia and the United States.

These exemptions will remove the licensing requirements for most military goods and technology items exported, re-exported or transferred (in-country) to or within the three AUKUS partners.

This new licence-free environment is designed to support the industry, higher education, and research sectors in all three nations to cooperate with lower technology transfer barriers and costs of trade.

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