Israeli defense companies will not need a license to market unclassified products to some 100 states, the Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.
Col. (res.) Dubi Lavi, the new head of the ministry’s Export Control Branch, announced the measures as part of an attempted boost to defense sales, but warned exporters that supervision and enforcement against unlawful activities would be tightened.
The ECB monitors Israeli companies to ensure they comply with Israel’s arms sales rules.
Unclassified defense products include assault rifles, ammunition, helmets, ceramic vests, and camouflage gear.
Israeli exporters will be able to market to 100 states without needing permission from the ECB, Lavi said, but will still need a license to produce and sell such products.
He spoke at an annual conference that summed up the ECB’s activities in 2013 and addressed hundreds of delegates representing defense firms as well as members of the defense establishment.
Senior American delegate Beth McCormick, who is deputy assistant secretary of state for Defense Trade Controls, also spoke at the event.
Last year, defense firms that violated export rules paid NIS 4 million in fines collectively, marking the highest sum in penalties since the Export control Branch was founded in 2007.
The ECB opened 216 cases on suspected illegal defense sales. It fined two large defense exporters NIS 1m. each for attempting to market goods in violation of their license, or which operated without a license.
In 2013, it received over 27,000 requests from Israeli defense exporters for an initial approval to obtain licenses to sell products to some 190 states.
Of those, over half were for unclassified products. Eight percent of requests were rejected.
Some 8,500 final licenses were given last year, and it took the ECB an average of 18 days to respond to each application.
During his talk, Lavi pledged to make his agency’s work more efficient vis-a-vis exporters, and said he would create a forum of defense industries.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Dan Harel, director-general of the Defense Ministry said: “We don’t intend to make supervision easier or to change the parameters around which we operate in order to make exporting easier. We will promote the taking of increased, supervised risks in order to open new export markets in the world.”
According to figures unveiled by Lavi, 1,414 Israeli defense exporters are registered in the ECB’s records: 1,055 companies and 328 individuals.
More than 320,000 marketing licenses have been allocated by the ECB since it was founded. The regulatory agency registered 20,547 defense products since 2007.
An earlier version of this report mistakenly suggested that defense companies can market and sell products to the 100 countries on the exemption list. It has been corrected to reflect the fact that the exemption only applies to the marketing of defense products, not to the final sales stage, which would still require a license.