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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 43, January - February 2000

Britain Tackles Aid & Arms Exports Issues

On December 18, the House of Commons' Select Committee on International Development released a report questioning the extent of credit extended by the Government to allow developing states to buy arms. Calling for a review of the operation of the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), the Committee recommended investigation of "the claim that the high proportion of cover provided by EGCD for defence equipment is at the expense of non-defence related exports." The Committee heard strong criticism of the ECGD from groups such as Oxfam, Amnesty International and Saferworld.

In December, the Government also announced a massive debt-relief initiative writing-off debt for 40 countries; accompanying the move was a ban on using credit guarantees to underwrite arms purchases by those countries. On January 13, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced that a further 22 countries would be subject to the ban.

Reports: Arms exports in the spotlight, BBC News Online, December 18; Export Credits Guarantee Department - Developmental Issues, First Report of the House of Commons International Development Committee Session 1999-2000, December 20; Ban on underwriting arms sales extended, BBC News Online, January.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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