BAFA as a central licensing authority is responsible for the administrative implementation of the Federal Government's export control policy. Together with the monitoring and investigating authorities, especially the different customs offices, it is involved in a complex export control system.
Objectives of Export Control
The foreign trade with commodities of strategic importance, mainly weapons, armaments and dual-use items, is subject to control. Dual-use items are goods, software and technology that may be used for civil and military purposes. A milling machine, for example, may be used for processing components for civil as well as military products.
Within the framework of its legal and international commitments, the export control policy of the Federal Government is oriented to the security need and foreign political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany. Particularly its security must not be threatened by conventional armaments and weapons of mass destruction. German exports should neither intensify conflicts nor contribute to internal repression or other severe human rights violations in crisis areas. Its international involvement obliges the Federal Republic of Germany not to burden its foreign relations by critical exports.
With the increasing globalisation, efficient export controls are only possible on the basis of an intensified international and European co-operation. The Federal Republic of Germany is a member of numerous international treaties and export control regimes aiming at the harmonisation of export control regulations and licensing policies. Of special importance are the lists of items established by the international regimes; these lists are technically updated in regular periods.
International Export Control Bodies:
There are four international export control bodies:
- MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) – for items relevant for missile systems
- Australia Group - for dual-use items relevant for chemical and biological weapons
- NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) for items in the nuclear area
- Wassenaar Arrangement – for armaments and dual-use items related to the area of conventional armaments
The export of dual-use items from the European Union has been harmonised to a large extent. It is subject to European law.
BAFA regularly sends its experts to the meetings of the control bodies and the EU-work groups.
One of BAFA’s main tasks is to check whether the export of a commodity is subject to licensing and if a licence may be granted.
An export licence is always required if the commodity is mentioned in the European or national list of items. Items covered by the lists range from weapons, ammunition and related production facilities via material, plants and equipment for nuclear purposes, high-grade materials, specific machine tools, electronic equipment, computers, telecommunications up to specific chemical units and chemicals. In addition to the licensing requirements for listed items, there are European and national licensing requirements depending on the use of the items. This "catch-all" clause normally applies to sensitive countries only. In case of certain countries, technical support as well as brokering activities are subject to additional controls.
An export licence may be granted if the export does not impair the foreign policy and security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany. The legal and administrative problems are very complex when looking at the licensing procedure of dual-use items. Although the majority of them serve civil purposes, they can also be used in the military sector. Dual-use items make up the highest percentage of the millions of exports crossing the borders every year; normally their intended use is not directly visible. BAFA decides on granting or refusing an authorisation after taking into consideration all the available information about the intended use. In a number of cases BAFA takes such a decision only after political consultations with the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and the Federal Foreign Office. The granting of a licence is also made dependant on the exporter’s reliability. In this connection, BAFA may request the nomination of a person responsible for exports on the level of the management.
Another task of BAFA is the administrative implementation of the embargo resolutions adopted by international organisations, e.g. arms embargoes imposed by the United Nations or the European Union.
A task of growing importance is the administrative implementation of international verification agreements. In the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) BAFA is the competent licensing authority for exports, imports, transit and the handling of specific chemicals. In addition, it collects the required declarations submitted by the chemical industry and provides the escort team for inspections conducted there.Comparable inspections are also planned for the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines.
Other tasks in the export sector are the information on the list of items - in cases of doubt, it proves to the customs that a commodity is not included in a list of items - , the issuance of International Import Certificates (IC) and Delivery Verification Certificate (DVC) and the notifications for the United Nations Arms Register.
BAFA supports the work of the investigating authorities: within the framework of company audits, preliminary investigation and legal proceedings, BAFA submits statements on whether exports require and may obtain a licence.
War Weapons Control is connected with export control. Normally, the competent licensing authority is the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. BAFA monitors all stocks of war weapons on the basis of notifications and company audits on the site.
Under the expert supervision of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety BAFA is the responsible licensing authority for imports and exports of nuclear fuels, other radioactive substances and radioactive waste.
BAFA publishes the Handbook of German Export Control (HADDEX). Volume 1 explains the export control legislation currently in force, volumes 2 - 4 contain the most important laws, regulations and announcements. The handbook can be obtained from the Bundesanzeiger Verlagsgesellschaft.
A brief outline gives an overview of the German and European export control regulations