Foreign trade law is being changed and simplified. This should make things a lot easier for German exporters. The amendment is intended to simplify foreign trade law to a large extent and thus make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to understand.
The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) has presented a draft for a new foreign trade law. It provides for the abolition of many special provisions. The Foreign Trade and Payments Act and the Foreign Trade Ordinance (AWV) are to be simplified considerably.
Simplification for dual-use goods
The changes relate in particular to the export of dual-use goods. Dual-use goods are goods that are primarily intended for civilian use but can also be used for military purposes due to their specific characteristics. This can result, for example, from the material or the performance of the goods. High-speed centrifuges are one example. These are primarily used for medical purposes, but can also be used for uranium enrichment.
Which goods belong to the dual-use goods is usually defined in national lists. All goods that appear in these lists are thus automatically subject to export control. Export licences must therefore be obtained. This concerns export (Art. 161 Customs Code), re-export (Art. 182 CC) and the transfer of software.
An EU regulation on dual-use goods has been in force since 5 May 2009 (see Annex I to Regulation (EC) No. 428/2009 – Dual Use Regulation). This covers goods that can be considered dual-use goods. The German regulations partly went beyond this list and were therefore stricter. They represented a competitive disadvantage for many German export taxes. Therefore approval requirements are partly abolished, e.g. for machine tools.
War weapons and military equipment, on the other hand, are not affected by the new draft for foreign trade law.
Amendment and tightening of penal and fine provisions
The provisions on penalties and fines in the Foreign Trade and Payments Act will also be amended. These provided for numerous indefinite legal terms which repeatedly led to disputes before the courts and have now been deleted. Elsewhere, on the other hand, criminal offences will be made considerably more severe. For example, certain violations of central provisions of foreign trade law are now subject to mandatory prosecution as a criminal offence and no longer as an administrative offence.