Since the AFCCL amendment, Global Affairs Canada has refused to say if export permit applications for the transfer of automatic firearms to Ukraine have been received or approved.
While Ukraine has not been a significant recipient of military goods in recent years (under $200,000 per year since 2014), the AFCCL has often been used as a list of potential customers for military goods.
Prior to the Mulroney government's passage of Bill C-6 in 1991, which created the AFCCL, the Canadian Criminal Code prohibited the possession of automatic firearms by all groups or individuals other than Canadian military and police forces, effectively eliminating the private export of Canadian-made weapons.
Inclusion in the AFCCL
does not guarantee that exports of prohibited firearms, weapons and devices to a country will be approved.
The initial list of countries on the AFCCL was comprised essentially of NATO allies.
Being on the AFCCL is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for a country to purchase Canadian weapons.
Instead of starting from a presumption that a state may receive Canadian military equipment unless there are reasons to preclude the transfer, as happens with the other classes of Canadian weapons, the AFCCL establishes a presumption against automatic firearms exports.
There is a refreshing transparency in the AFCCL procedure that is often missing in the export of other military goods.
However, it is important to note that being listed on the AFCCL does not guarantee that a state can receive automatic weapons shipments from Canada.
The opening clauses of Bill C-6 mandated the federal Cabinet (Governor in Council) to establish an "Automatic Firearms Country Control List." This became a list of states "with which Canada has an intergovernmental defence, research, development and production arrangement and to which the Governor in Council deems it appropriate to permit the export of a prohibited weapon." (1) The first AFCCL list contained the names of 13 countries: 10 NATO-member states, Australia, Sweden, and Saudi Arabia--the last the recipient of more than 1,500 Canadian-built light armoured vehicles since 1991.
States have been added to the AFCCL list as contracts or perceived markets for Canadian-exported automatic weapons emerged.
The AFCCL in effect turns the typical export control process on its head.