Strategic Export Controls

Supplementary evidence submitted by The Campaign Against Arms Trade

1. Following the oral evidence session held by your Committees on 13th December 2010, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) would like to make a short supplementary submission. CAAT was pleased that your Committees asked questions about export promotion, but concerned that some of the answers may not have conveyed a fully accurate impression.

New markets do cause concern

2. Malcolm Bruce mentioned Defence Ministers' espousal of arms exports and asked the witnesses representing industry where the orders were going to come from, pointing out that others countries were also in the business and that military budgets are under pressure. He suggested that some people might be concerned if any of the increased sales were to emerging markets where "controls might be more difficult".

3. In response David Wilson said that the United States was a "big and increasing market" and, latter, cited new members of the European Union. None of the industry panel disagreed with Malcolm Bruce's summary that the markets envisaged "shouldn't really cause significant concern".

4. However the markets being prioritised are far from being limited to the USA and the newer EU members. The Government's arms sales unit, the UK Trade and Investment Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), has a list of priority markets for 2010/11. These are Algeria, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, India, Iraq, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the USA. (Hansard, 28.6.10, Col. 418-9W).

5. While the list, indeed, features the USA, it is notable for its lack of EU member states, but does, worryingly, include countries that give rise to grave concern on human rights, conflict or development grounds including Algeria, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. UKTI DSO is also working hard to promote military exports to Angola and Vietnam.

UK leaders support for arms exports

6. Later in the session your Chair asked the industry representatives what they would like to see Ministers doing to support arms exports. In his response, Brinley Salzmann said: "We would welcome Ministers actively supporting British companies and particular programmes pursuing potential export projects to help counter-balance the high level of political support that our competitors in France and the United States receive. They receive a high level of support, and we are keen to see similar support from our Ministers." The efforts of Presidents Sarkozy and Obama in promoting sales to Brazil and India were then mentioned as examples the UK could learn from.

7. This may have left members of your Committees with the impression that the UK was not already doing likewise. In fact, Ministers of differing political hues have over decades thrown their weight behind bids to sell arms overseas. Recently, in July 2010 and as CAAT pointed out in its submission of November 2010, David Cameron and several senior ministerial colleagues, accompanied by industry leaders including BAE Systems' Dick Olver, visited India. Contracts for the supply of Hawk jets were signed. These jets will be built in India, raising concerns about regional arms races and proliferation, but the deal will support just 200 jobs in the UK

8. Junior Ministers have also been active. To use Brazil as an example, in September 2010, the Minister for International Security Strategy, Gerald Howarth, went there to sign a Defence Cooperation Treaty. He was accompanied by ten senior representatives from top UK arms companies along with Richard Paniguian, Head off UKTI DSO.

9. CAAT deeply regrets these sales promotion efforts, be they by French, US or UK politicians. They may benefit the arms companies, but at the expense of peace and justice. Military production also wastes science and engineering skills which could be used to develop green technologies.

Objection to arms exports

10. As Malcolm Bruce remarked ".. our non-governmental organisations have made it clear that they have no ideological objection to developing our defence export industry ..". That may be true of those organisations which were giving oral evidence, but is not the case more generally. CAAT is not alone in having a moral objection to arms exports - it is a view shared with many other organisations and individuals.

December 2010