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The UK Parliament Has Seller’s Remorse

Seems like our cousins across the pond are having a slight case of buyer’s remorse over weapon sales to North African and Middle East governments. Some of this we can attribute to Europe’s anti-gun obsession. If they ascribed to our view that people kill, not weapons, maybe they would not worry so much about these things. In a quarterly report released by Parliament yesterday:

The Government has been vigorously backpedalling on a number of arms export licence approvals to authoritarian regimes across the region … We conclude that both the present Government and its predecessor misjudged the risk that arms approved for export to certain authoritarian countries in North Africa and the Middle East might be used for internal repression.

Granted, even in the United States we are party to treaties and have laws that forbid the sales of weapons to bad apples, but even in the cases where the government authorizes sales, there is never a guarantee how these items will be used in the future. The UK report continues:

We welcome the revocation of a number of arms export licences to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, and recommend that the Government extends immediately its review of UK arms export licences for countries in North Africa and the wider Middle East to authoritarian regimes worldwide.

A somewhat irritating but not suprising reference is how the Conservative Party lists Israel as a country of concern, right alongside with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Libya, among others. It is not surprising because there has long been an anti-Israel bias in mainland Europe that through the years has slowly crept to the UK, Tories included.

If you’re in the business of advising clients on trade compliance issues, the report makes for an interesting read. Read the report.

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