Backgrounder: Amendment to Canada's Export Control List
Incorporating international commitments made until December 2020 and streamlining the process to incorporate future international commitments
On June 3, 2021, the Government of Canada finalized the regulatory process to amend the Export Control List (ECL) to incorporate the latest version of "A Guide to Canada's Export Control List" (the Guide). The new version of the Guide will bring into force the commitments Canada has made in the various multilateral export control regimes up to December 31, 2020.
The current December 2018 version of the Guide remains in effect until July 23, 2021. Registered users of the Export Controls On-Line (EXCOL) electronic permitting system will receive an email message with a link to the new Guide when the amended Export Control List is published in Canada Gazette Part II on June 23, 2021. They will receive a follow-up email on July 22, 2021 to advise that the December 2020 version the Guide will enter into force the following day. This will provide EXCOL users with 30 days to become familiar with the updated controls.
To see a summary of key changes made to the December 2020 edition visit: Summary of key changes made to A Guide to Canada's Export Control List. Exporters wishing to review a document tracking the individual changes made to the Guide or who have any questions regarding this amendment should contact the Export Controls Policy Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The regulation and the Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement were published in the Canada Gazette on June 23, 2021.
To increase the efficiency of the process through which the annual updates to the multilateral export control lists are implemented in Canada, this amendment also incorporates the Guide in the ECL regulation "as amended from time to time". As of next year, any changes to the Guide that are made to align it with the multilateral export control regimes will enter into force 30-days after the publication of the Guide by Global Affairs Canada, without the need for an amendment to the regulation. Any update to the Guide that is made for any other reason, including the development of unilateral controls, would still require a regulatory amendment.
Key takeaways on process streamlining:
- This amendment streamlines the Government of Canada's internal process to implement its key export control and non-proliferation regime commitments. This streamlining only affects the approval processes that is internal to government.
- This amendment will not change the process by which Canada negotiates and agrees to changes in the common control lists of the consensus-based regimes.
- Exporters who may be affected by changes at the regimes will continue to be consulted prior to any regime negotiations to ensure that their views are taken into consideration.
- In recent years, over 300 companies, associations, government departments and agencies have been individually consulted on specific proposals considered by the regimes.
- The Export Controls Policy Division welcomes feedback from industry about the controls that derive from the regimes. This includes suggestions for improvements to the controls to ensure that the goals of Canada's export controls - such as protecting national security and preventing Canadian exports from being used in the commission of human rights violations - are met, without negatively affecting legitimate trade.
- This amendment will not allow the Government of Canada to enact any unilateral export controls, outside the framework of the regimes, without a regulatory amendment to the ECL and the corresponding public consultation period.
- Should Canada decide to join a new export control or non-proliferation regime in the future, this amendment will not allow the Government to add controls on the export of items further to that new regime without a regulatory amendment. Stakeholders would be consulted prior to such a decision.
- The notification process will remain the same and exporters will continue to be given a 30-day period to familiarize themselves with the updates to the controls published in the Guide.
- The exemption from pre-publication in the Canada Gazette for this amendment is consistent with past practice. An exemption from pre-publication has consistently been granted for regulatory amendments to the ECL as stakeholder feedback is incorporated during the development of Canadian negotiating positions in the regimes.
- Canada's robust risk assessment framework for the review of export permit applications will not change as a result of this amendment.
Understanding the Export Control List (ECL)
The goods and technology controlled for export are mainly determined through commitments made with international partners in the various multilateral export control and non-proliferation regimes. The four regimes are:
With the exceptions of Groups 5 and 9 that are spelled out directly in the schedule of the regulation, the ECL itself does not contain the lists of items controlled for export. Rather, these are described in the Guide which contains the technical specifications of the controlled items and is incorporated by reference in the regulation. The ECL also incorporates by reference the control lists as published by the regimes listed above.
It should also be noted that in order to allow for the Guide to be incorporated "as amended from time to time", changes to the schedule of the regulation were required to accommodate long-standing, uniquely Canadian, practises in the implementation of controls on firearms (to reflect Canadian legal definitions) and certain nuclear materials. These changes to the regulation do not change the scope of the pre-existing export controls over these items.
The table in annex provides a breakdown of the structure of the ECL and the specific regime commitments incorporated in the Guide.
Export Controls Policy Division (TIR)
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, ON. K1A 0G2
Tel: 343-203-4331 / Fax: 613-996-9933
The Export Control List
|ECL Group||Items Controlled||Regime Commitments||Regime List|
|Group 1||Dual-use items: goods and technology originally designed for civilian purposes, but that could have a military use or be used to produce military items.||Wassenaar |
|List of Dual-Use Goods and Technologies|
WA-LIST 19 (1)
|Group 2||Military items: designed or modified for military purposes. Includes parts and components of military items.||Wassenaar |
|Munitions List (2019) |
WA-LIST 19 (1)
|Group 3||Nuclear items: are nuclear-specific and exported for peaceful purposes but could be used in nuclear explosive activity or in a non-safeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity.||Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)||NFCIRC/254/Rev.14/Part 1a|
|Group 4||Nuclear dual-use items: used in non-nuclear applications but that could also be used in a nuclear explosive activity or a non-safeguarded nuclear fuel cycle activity.||Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)||INFCIRC/254/Rev.11/Part 2a|
|Group 5||Miscellaneous controls: contains non-strategic controls on certain goods for reasons of economic policy, such as forest, agricultural and food products. Group 5 contains some strategic controls over U.S.-origin goods, land mines, laser weapons and nuclear fusion reactors, space-related equipment, and items that pose a risk of weapons of mass destruction proliferation, among others.||N/A||N/A|
|Group 6||Missile technology: missiles, complete rocket systems, and unmanned air vehicles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.||Missile Technology |
|MTCR/TEM/2019/Annex of October 11, 2019|
|Group 7||Chemical and biological items: chemical substances, biological agents and related items that could be used in the production of chemical and biological weapons.||Australia Group (AG) & Organization for the |
|Australia Group Lists (2020)|
CWC - Schedule 1, 2 and 3
|Group 8||Not in force: formerly controlled illicit drugs but these controls have since been removed from the ECL.||N/A||N/A|
|Group 9||Conventional arms: full-system conventional arms that fall under the scope of the ATT for reporting purposes (i.e. battle tanks; combat vehicles; artillery systems; combat aircraft; attack helicopters; warships; missiles and missile launchers; and SALW). Group 9 is a subset of Group 2.||Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)||Exact control text developed by Global Affairs Canada based on technical descriptions of conventional arms found in both the UN Registrar on Conventional Arms and Appendix 3 of the Wassenaar Initial Elements.|
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