The Australia Group is an informal arrangement among a number of countries,1
which aims at preventing chemical and biological weapon proliferation through coordinated efforts to strengthen national export controls systems. The Group meets annually to discuss ways in which the national level export licensing measures of its members can collectively be made more effective.
The Australia Group met for its annual plenary in Paris from 7-10 June to further strengthen participating countries' export control measures. The Group also welcomed five new members: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, and Slovenia.
Participants noted growing acceptance of the Australia Group's measures as the international benchmark in relation to export controls in the chemical and biological fields, owing in large part to the Group's ongoing outreach activities. Accordingly, participants agreed on strategies for better targeted training and assistance, particularly at the regional level, to assist supplier and transshipping countries and other interested countries outside the Group to enhance their export controls.
In response to increasingly sophisticated transnational procurement activities, the participating countries agreed to consider the issue of brokering controls, which could play a key role in curtailing the activities of intermediaries and front companies. As part of the Group's ongoing efforts to keep its common control lists2
up to date and scientifically relevant, participants agreed to add five plant pathogens to the control lists - the first such addition since 1993 - and to expand medical exemptions for one of the controlled toxins. Participants also considered further additions to the control lists, including airborne spraying and fogging systems capable of dispersing biological agents in aerosol form.
The members of the Australia Group are Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States.
See web site http:/www.australiagroup.net/en/agcomcon.htm.