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Australia to update export rules to support AUKUS

New defence export rules in Australia will provide licence exemptions for the UK and the US to facilitate the programme to develop and build the SSN-AUKUS submarine, a graphic depiction of which is above. (BAE Systems)

Australia has proposed amended defence export legislation to support its AUKUS partnership with the UK and the US while toughening rules on the transfer of technologies to other foreign countries.

The Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra proposed the amended Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2023 earlier in November, calling for public responses to the draft due later in the month.

In a public notice, the DoD said the reforms would create an “export licence-free environment to support industry, higher education, and research sectors in all three [AUKUS] countries, including by reducing barriers to technology transfer and costs of trade”.

It added, “The reforms are designed to promote co-operation, collaboration, and innovation between Australia, the UK, and the US and are a critical step in building a seamless industrial base between AUKUS partners.”

To support AUKUS trade and technology transfers, clauses within the draft legislation provide exemptions to UK and US companies from Australia's export control permit requirements, which are stipulated under the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012.

The DoD said additional exceptions to support AUKUS are also being considered through the Defence Trade Controls Regulation 2013 and Australia's Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), which identifies goods and technologies prohibited for Australian export.

The new draft law also introduces three new criminal offences within the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012.

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