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Update on Norwegian export control for 2018

On 3 May 2018 the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted its annual meeting on Norwegian export control and sanctions. On the meeting the ministry gave an update on their priorities in 2018. In this newsletter we have summarised what we see as the most important matters from this years meeting.

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Export of defence-related products and dual-use items

Exports of arms and munitions are accounted for approximately NOK 2.9 billion, and other defence-related products NOK 650 million. In addition, there were exports of dual-use items, with a total value of about NOK 300 million. The main market for export is NATO and Nordic countries, but the export to other countries are increasing.

Under Norway's export control system, a range of products, technology and services may only be exported from Norway if the exporter has obtained an export licence from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Silja Skjelnes, who is the Deputy Director General at the ministry's department for export control, highlighted at the meeting that the aim is to give the industry the long-term perspective and predictability it needs. One of the main obstacles that the industry face today is that many of the countries that are seen as new markets does not have the same strict regulations or control with end use of defence-related material. The ministry is therefore handling export applications to such countries particularly strict. That does not mean that no export licenses will be granted. The ministry also emphasised that the industry should not anticipate getting export license to Iran for export of defence-related material.

The Ministry also describes the extensive international cooperation on export control and non-proliferation. The ministry highlighted that Norway takes active part in this cooperation, and is engaged both in the technical work on lists of conventional defence-related products and dual-use goods, and in the efforts to reach agreement on high international standards for control of exports of strategic goods and technology.

Suspension of export licences to the United Arab Emirates

On the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the situation in Yemen and the increasing risks associated with the United Arab Emirates' military engagement in the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided on 19 December 2017 to suspend licences that have already been issued for the export of Category A defence-related products (weapons and ammunition) to the United Arab Emirates. No new export licences for Category A defence-related products to the United Arab Emirates will be issued.

In addition, the threshold for refusing licences for the export of Category B defence-related products and dual-use goods for military purposes to countries that are involved in military activities in Yemen will now be even lower. And if applied for license to such countries one should take into account that the time for processing such application will be longer than normal.

The ministry is monitoring the situation in Yemen closely and carries out thorough assessments of all individual applications for export licences, with particular focus on the risk of Norwegian defence-related products being used in Yemen as well as violations of international humanitarian law.


The Ministry points to the fact that there is an increase in complex joint venture structures. The use of complex organisational structures increases the risk for defence and dual-use material being exported in breach with national legislation.

The ministry point to the fact that the individual exporter has a responsibility to make sure that the products end use are compliant with the export license that has been granted. This does also apply where an end-user statement is not required. The industry is therefore encouraged to make sure to have sufficient compliance programs that are implemented within all part of the organisation.

There are also arising new challenges as more defence systems and products are developed through cooperation between manufacturers in different countries, at a time when emerging and new markets are gaining importance. These developments, and possible differences between the rules in the individual countries, raise important questions for Norwegian export control.

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST)

The global security landscape has changed fundamentally in the past years. In 2018, the threat situation in Norway is characterised by a number of complex challenges. The security policy development and its effects on close allies and adjacent areas will significantly mark the threat situation. Moreover, a number of European countries are facing serious terrorist threats. These threats will influence European counter terrorist work in the year ahead.

At the meeting PST pointed to the fact that the Norwegian defence and public security sector is in particularly at risk of becoming intelligence targets. PST sees that many countries' intelligence services are interested in the mentioned fields. Russian intelligence activity is according to PST still believed to have the most significant damage potential. In addition, services of other states, for instance China, may carry out unwanted and harmful activity.

PST do encourage the defence industry to have a close dialog with the Norwegian Police if they receive suspicious requests.

Compliance programme

Compliance programs will be the best organisational measures that should be in place in every company that are exporting goods that are either controlled under the current export control regime or regulated by sanctions.

We have assisted numerous of companies getting their compliance programmes in place to ensure that exports are done in accordance with national law.