iStock_000015731499XSmallOn June 23, 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union.  Does the Brexit decision affect Canada’s export controls and economic sanctions regimes?

The short answer is, “No, not specifically”.  It is not likely that Brexit will have a direct impact on Canada’s export controls and economic sanctions regimes.  This is because Canada’s economic sanctions laws do not refer to the “European Union” mainly because the European Union is not a party to the Wassenaar Arrangement.  All member states of the European Union (other than Cyprus) are individual members of the Wassenaar Arrangement.  So, following the Wassenaar Agreement and looking at individual country risks, Canada identifies specific countries rather than trading blocks.

In particular, some regulations made pursuant to the Export and Import Permits Act refer to the United Kingdom specifically and do not refer collectively to the European Union. For example, the following regulations and orders refer to the United Kingdom:

  • Automatic Firearms Country Control List;
  • the Export Control List;
  • General Export Permit No. Ex.1 “Export of Goods for Special and Personal Use Permit“;
  • General Export Permit No. 41 “Dual-Use Goods and Technology to Certain Designations“;
  • General Export Permit No. 43 “Nuclear Goods and Technology to Certain Destinations“;
  • General Export Permit No. 44 “Dual-Use Nuclear Goods and Technology to Certain Destinations“;
  • General Export Permit No. 45 “Cryptography for the Development or Production of a Product“;
  • General Export Permit No. 46 “Cryptography for Use by Certain Consignees“; and
  • General Export Permit No. 100 “Eligible Agricultural Goods“.

As a result of the specific reference to the “United Kingdom”, regulatory amendments are not required to respond to the June 23, 2016 Brexit vote decision. That being said, in the future, if Scotland or Ireland hold referendums to exit the United Kingdom, changes will be necessary. It is likely that Britain will be a listed destination/country. Whether Scotland and Ireland would be listed after separation from the United Kingdom will likely be considered in light of the fact that Britain’s influence will be absent on a going forward basis after any such separation vote.

Canada does not impose economic sanctioned against any European Union member pursuant to the United Nations Act or the Special Economic Measures Act. As a result, there is not economic sanctions consideration at this time.

However, an indirect effect may be felt in the future.  The United Kingdom has been an ally of Canada in recent years in advocating for economic sanctions and trade restrictions.  In the future, Canada may have to resort to unilateral economic sanctions pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act where the European Union countries do not support multilateral economic sanctions so that United Nations does not pass Security Council resolutions against problem countries in the World.

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at Alternatively, visit