Global, complex rules for import and export of goods and services
The companies of the Rheinmetall Group have a special responsibility with regard to exports. The strict provisions of German and European foreign trade law as well as the particularly strict German War Weapons Control Act and other applicable regulations must be strictly adhered to. Foreign trade law regulates trade with foreign countries with regard to its own security, foreign, economic and trade policy needs. The War Weapons Control Act is the implementing act to Article 26 para. 2 Grundgesetz (German constitution) and regulates the manufacture, provision, circulation, acquisition and transport of war weapons, i. e. objects, substances and organisms that are intended for warfare.
Rheinmetall takes this sensitive issue very seriously and sets the highest standards in terms of export control. All companies of the Rheinmetall Group must comply with these high standards, which are governed by numerous directives and instructions. At regular intervals, all employees involved in export control are thoroughly trained and made aware of their responsibilities. Rheinmetall has also developed its own e-learning programs for this topic. This provides employees with easier access to the significant and complex materials.
The Corporate Legal Division of the Group Holding in Düsseldorf coordinates export control. It follows the development of legislation, clarifies general legal questions, maintains contact with the ministries and authorities involved and ensures that our high standards are met in all affected companies of the Rheinmetall Group.
In the meantime, 164 countries have joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), accounting for more than 98 percent of the world trade volume. This is because while WTO members must remove trade barriers, other trade obstacles arise such as technical standards and special certificates that could protect the domestic industry from international competition. Apart from the nearly unlimited domestic market in the EU, there are other free trade areas outside Europe, each with its own rules: North and Central America (NAFTA), South America (Mercosur) or Asia (ASEAN). In addition, there are other bilateral or multinational agreements between various countries to be considered.
The key element in the area of customs and trade is goods classification. The number one rule for this is: There is only one customs tariff number for each product. This number (which can be obtained if required from the customs authorities using a “binding customs tariff request”) indicates what is to be done or omitted with the respective product. This ranges from customs duties to export restrictions to environmental requirements.
Embargos against countries, individuals and organisations are becoming increasingly important. A constant comparison with current sanctions lists prevents possible violations of embargos.
Each company with military business employs experienced War Weapons Control and Export Officers who ensure compliance with the particularly strict provisions of the War Weapons Control Act and German and European Foreign Trade Law, and particularly that an appropriate approval has been obtained by the competent authority. Export permits to countries subject to an arms embargo will not be granted and such countries must not be supplied.
All companies dealing with war weapons are subject to comprehensive monitoring provisions. Each movement of war weapons, without exception, must be documented in the “War Weapons Book.” These War Weapons Books must be submitted to the supervisory authority, the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA), on a half-yearly basis.
Furthermore, all sites dealing with weapons of war are regularly audited every two years by BAFA external auditors, who thoroughly check whether the inventory in the War Weapons Register corresponds to the actual situation on the ground. It is also checked whether each entry is based on a proper document.
In addition to the inspections under the German Weapons of War Control Act, there are also foreign trade audits by the customs authorities. Every three years, all Rheinmetall Group companies are audited to determine whether exports have been made in accordance with the applicable provisions of foreign trade laws. In some Group companies, audits even take several months. The standard applied by the customs authorities is extremely high.
Directive 2009/43/EC of 6 May 2009 simplifying the conditions of intra-Community transfers of defence-related products (the “Defence Equipment Directive”) partially simplifies the authorisation of exports within the EU for certified companies. ICT-certificates are issued at the request of companies that have demonstrated their reliability in terms of compliance with export control legislation. The effortful certification procedure is worthwhile in order to facilitate the authorisation procedures for armaments within the EU. Currently, Rheinmetall Waffe Munition, Rheinmetall Landsysteme, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Rheinmetall Electronics are ICT-certified companies.