Export Control Joint Unit issues advice on End User Advisory Service as exporters face delays

Wed 22 Nov 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Worker in hazmat suit checking goods with a clipboard

The Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has released fresh guidance to exporters on how to use its End User Advisory Service, warning that exporters are currently facing delays in receiving answers to their questions while “unnecessary” queries are being submitted.

In an advisory notice, published last week, the government provided some reminders and additional guidance on how to use the service.

End users

The End User Advisory Service enables exporters to seek advice on whether exports to named overseas entities will require licences, typically because the goods might trigger concerns over Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) or military end-use.

Although the advice given is ‘non-statutory’ and therefore does not constitute binding legal advice, the ECJU say it recognises that the End User Advisory Service is “a helpful and important tool” for exporters to understand how export control rules might apply to them.

Experts warn that it is not a substitute for strong internal governance.

Delays

The notice warned that some “unnecessary” queries had been received, while also acknowledging that some exporters had experienced delays when seeking advice from the government.

The notice said that the service should only be used by exporters that do not normally require export licences, as their goods do not feature on any control lists.

Additionally, businesses exporting to one of a list of named countries, predominantly in Western Europe, do not need to use the service, according to the guidance.

Possible delays?

According to the government, the system is currently processing around 14,500 enquiries per year.

This has increased substantially compared to previous years, the ECJU said, attributing this primarily to the packages of sanctions imposed on Russia since its illegal invasion of Ukraine last year.

The enhancement of the government’s military end use controls, and the decision to include China in this, was also cited as a factor.

According to government statistics, enquiries about Chinese end users alone have increased by 14.5% from May 2022, when the military end use control changes took effect, to April 2023.

Pause to training

In a separate notice, published on Monday (20 November), the ECJU announced it would take a break from running its regional training programme, partly to enable the unit to adapt to the “operational challenges, new stakeholders and policy implications felt over the last 12 to 24 months”.

There was disquiet from within the export control industry on the temporary break to the programme, with experts noting that the “highly regarded” programmes would not be on offer for several months, despite high demand and oversubscribed courses.

As part of this ‘pause’, the ECJU said it would welcome feedback on training or awareness to improve the service.

Exporters have the opportunity to learn more and ask questions of the ECJU at the annual Symposium, held next Wednesday (29 November) in London.

Delegates from the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) will be in attendance.