The Australia – United States Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty is one step closer to implementation following the introduction into Parliament of the Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announced today.
The legislation is required for the Treaty to enter into force.
Once implemented, the Treaty will create a framework for trade between Australia and the United States in certain defence materiel, technology and services without the need for United States or Australian export licences.
“Cooperation in defence capability and technology is one of the most important elements of Australia’s Alliance with the United States,” Mr Smith said.
Mr Clare tabled the Bill in Parliament today and outlined the benefits of the Treaty to the Australian Defence Force and Australian Defence industry.
“About 50 per cent of Australia’s war-fighting assets are sourced from the United States,” Mr Clare said.
“We will replace or upgrade up to 85 per cent of our military equipment over the next 10 to 15 years.
“Strengthening this area of our Alliance cooperation is therefore clearly in our national interest.”
Currently, Australian companies that need access to defence items or technology from the United States must seek an export licence from the US Department of State in accordance with their International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or, ITAR system.
The Treaty removes the requirement for individual licences to be obtained for each export, and allows for the licence-free movement of eligible defence articles within the Approved Australian and US Communities.
“This will save the Australian Government and Australian industry time and money,” Mr Clare said.
“For the Australian Defence Force the Treaty will also improve interoperability with US Armed Forces, by making it easier for both militaries to share common equipment and spares during exercises and operations.”
The Bill is the result of a 3-stage consultation process with the Australian defence industry, headed by Mr Ken Peacock AM.
Stage 1 was meetings with Australian defence companies in eight capital cities and regional centres in December last year.
Stage 2 was the establishment of the Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty Industry Advisory Panel in May this year, chaired by Mr Peacock.
The Panel includes experts from major Australian defence companies, small-to-medium businesses and the Department of Defence, and has provided expert advice on the development of the Bill.
Stage 3 was the release of the exposure draft of the Bill for broader industry and community feedback in July this year.
“This Bill is the result of that consultation and industry feedback,” Mr Clare said.
Mr Smith and Mr Clare thanked Mr Peacock for his work – both as Chair of the Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty Industry Advisory Panel and as Chair of the public information sessions held in capital cities and regional centres.
The next step is the release of the draft Regulations. The draft Regulations will be released before the end of the year, and will involve further significant consultation with the Australian defence industry – including review by the Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty Industry Advisory Panel.
The Australia-United States Defence Trade Cooperation Treaty was signed in Sydney on 5 September 2007.
The United States Congress passed implementing legislation on 28 September 2010, and the Treaty received ratification consent by the United States Senate on 29 September 2010.
The Bill will also strengthen Australia’s existing defence export controls measures to bring them into line with international best practice.