I would like to inform the House of a change of the Government’s arms exports policy in relation to Argentina. This change will lift additional restrictions which were imposed in 2012, at a time when the Argentine Government was escalating actions aimed at harming the economic interests of the Falkland Islanders.
Since the election of President Macri in December 2015, the UK’s relationship with Argentina has been improving. I visited Buenos Aires in September 2016 - the first visit by a Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister since 2009. During the visit an historic UK-Argentina Joint Communiqué was agreed that established closer co-operation across our bilateral relationship (including in defence) and secured important benefits for the Falkland Islanders. The Foreign Secretary also visited Buenos Aires in May 2018, the first Foreign Secretary visit to Argentina since 1993, in a further demonstration of the improving bilateral relationship between the UK and Argentina.
Following these positive developments the Government believes it is appropriate to now lift the additional 2012 restrictions.
Under those restrictions it has been the British Government's policy not to grant an export licence for any military or dual-use goods and technology being supplied to military end-users in Argentina, except in exceptional circumstances.
Our general position now will be to continue to refuse licences for export and trade of goods judged to enhance Argentine military capability. However, where like-for-like equipment is no longer available, we may grant licences where we judge they are not detrimental to the UK’s defence and security interests.
Licence applications for equipment and defence technology which meet the above criteria will still be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (the “Consolidated Criteria”).
The United Kingdom takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust export control regimes in the world. We rigorously examine every application on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, and remain prepared to suspend or revoke licences should the level of risk increase.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords