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Strategic goods are weapons and dual-use goods, that is goods that have both civil and military use. Their export is subject to control in order to safeguard international security. Export control seeks to prevent the use of these strategic goods for undesirable ends, such as the use of weapons to violate human rights or the production of weapons of mass destruction. Therefore, companies involved in the trade of these items have to comply with strict rules.
Competent instances in Belgium
In Belgium, since 2003, the three Regions are competent for issuing the licenses for the import, export and transit of weapons, defence-related products and dual use goods with the exception of licenses requested by the Belgian Army or the Federal Police.
The relevant points of contact for companies, depending on the location where they are registered, are:
- Brussels-Capital Region, Licensing Office;
- Walloon Region, Direction de la gestion des licences d’armes;
- Flemish Region, Strategic Goods Control Unit.
In the case of the import, export and transit of weapons, defence-related products and dual use goods from or to the Belgian Army or the Federal Police, the competent authority is the Federal Public Service Economy, SME’s, Self-employed and Energy, Licence Unit.
The export of nuclear goods is subject to the prior authorisation by the Federal Minister of Energy, based on the advice by the Belgian Advisory Committee for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (CANVEK).
Multilateral export control
On a voluntary basis, states have created multilateral export control regimes. These states seek to harmonise their export controls and enhance international cooperation in order to thwart the plans of would-be proliferators and mala fide end users. The regimes are:
- Nuclear Suppliers Group (nuclear weapons);
- Missile Technology Control Regime (rocket technology);
- Australia Group (chemical and biological weapons);
- Wassenaar Arrangement (conventional weapons).
Belgium is member of all these export control regimes. All relevant Federal and Regional Authorities, such as the licensing authorities and customs administration, are involved in the activities of these regimes. The FPS Foreign Affairs is responsible for general policy and co-ordination.