Defence Exports Conference 2023: Explaining the history and role of the Export Control Profession

Fri 29 Sept 2023
Posted by: Phil Adnett
Trade News

In a speech to the Defence Exports conference in London, Export Control Profession Board chair Roger Arthey recounted the story behind the decision to set up the Export Control Profession (ECP) and IOE&IT’s role in it.

The aim of the ECP, which is overseen by the IOE&IT board, is to promote “excellence in compliance with export and import controls and trade sanctions in the UK and globally”.

“Before we set up the ECP, there was no general professional body for those working in export controls in the UK,” he said, referring to a number of international collaborators across Europe.

After a lengthy stint at Rolls Royce, where he eventually rose to head of export controls compliance, Arthey left to enjoy what he thought would be a pleasant retirement.

Back for one more job

However, on realising that there was an opportunity to grow the export control profession, he teamed up with a number of industry figures, including Claire Harrison and Brinley Salzmann, to set up a board.

From there, he approached IOE&IT, who agreed to help set up the ECPB in May 2019 and oversee its work in boosting export compliance professionals’ expertise.

Opportunities

The ECPB’s goal, Arthey told the conference, was to provide not only a formal structure for export control professionals to work with, but also to communicate with a wider audience, develop professional services and qualifications and help those in the industry build their networks.

With the launch of IOE&IT’s export control special interest group earlier this year, Arthey said there was now a forum for people to network and provide feedback.

One goal of his work was to widen interest in developing the export control profession through networking, skills and getting people involved earlier in their careers.

“I was in my fifties before I’d even heard of export controls or thought of it as a viable career path.”

Several others agreed with the sentiment, noting that they had entered into export controls compliance later in life and would have benefited hearing about the career path much earlier on.

Arthey referred to an “expanding” network of similar organisations across Europe and the globe, notably the European Institute for Export Control (EIFEC), which he referred to as a group of “colleagues rather than competitors”.

Conference

Elsewhere at the conference, speakers and panellists talked about export controls and sanctions regimes on a high level, giving indications of which way various governments were leaning.

One panel included several experts discussing the US and China.

“Many companies are reviewing their China policy,” said one industry lawyer, noting that some companies were completely pulling out while others were re-working their corporate structures so they could continue to work with China.

US politics played a role at the conference. Although one panellist said there was “reasonable agreement across the political spectrum” in relation to restrictions placed on goods headed to China, Ukraine was a different story.

Political games

Depending on who won the 2024 presidential election, sanctions on Russia and support for Ukraine could drop substantially, as many in the opposition Republican party were sceptical of incumbent Democratic president Joe Biden’s policies, according to one speaker.

The looming government shutdown, which could happen this Sunday (1 October) if a deal is not agreed within the US congress, could also hit the export control world.

A pair of speakers from within the US government assured the conference that they would do as much as possible to mitigate any negative effects of the shutdown, including going through an emergency licensing process, but that there would still be negative impacts.