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New Zealand reviews military export controls

The New Zealand government has launched a review of its export control regime for military and dual-use goods and technologies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said on 12 April that the “independent and comprehensive” evaluation will focus on the “design and operation” of the country’s export control mechanisms.

It added, “The review will examine whether the export controls regime remains fit for purpose. It will cover the legislative mandate for the export controls framework, MFAT’s implementation of the framework, and all associated policies, roles, delegations, and business practices.”

MFAT said the review will be led by David Smol, former chief executive of the government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment. The ministry indicated that the review will be complete by the end of May.

The review is in response to recent controversy in New Zealand over national carrier Air New Zealand’s work – first exposed in a news report by state-owned broadcaster TVNZ – maintaining gas turbine engines on aircraft operated by the Royal Saudi Navy.

However, in mid-March MFAT said that this work did not constitute a breach of New Zealand’s military export controls because the engines – GE LM2500 marine gas turbines – were “not a component specially designed for military use, and [did not] possess any unique military capabilities or any inherent military technologies”.

TVNZ also reported in April that in the past three years the New Zealand government has received 256 applications for military exports to 41 countries and territories. It reported that these countries and territories included China, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Philippines, and Jordan.

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