Defence materiel exports are a great responsibility

Few areas are as highly regulated as defence materiel. Saab therefore has well-established processes to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations governing export controls. This is critical in order to maintain trust in the business.

The UN Charter establishes that every country has the right – and obligation – to protect its citizens against acts of aggression. A military defence is the ultimate expression of this. For Sweden, a domestic defence industry is an important component in its defence capabilities, allowing it to be independent and participate in international collaborations in defence technology.

Without the ability to sell to and cooperate with other countries, Sweden could not maintain its technological expertise and defence capabilities. At the same time, the export of defence materiel carries with it a great responsibility and is therefore governed by strict rules. The largest part of Saab’s exports is from Sweden, where the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (ISP) determines on behalf of the government which defence products Saab may sell to which countries.


The export of defence materiel requires a permit from the competent authority. Such permits could be issued if there are security and defence policy reasons for the export and if it is consistent with Swedish foreign policy interests. Decisions on export permits are made on a case-by-case basis where ISP weighs a number of criteria in a comprehensive assessment. ISP also takes into account the type of
product the decision involves.


Saab maintains Group-level policies and tools to help its businesses follow the export control laws that apply to the company’s products and activities. The high standard we maintain in terms of export compliance was confirmed by the global trade publication WorldECR, which named Saab one of three European Export Controls Compliance teams of the year. The head of export control is responsible for the company’s overarching policy, directives and governing policy documents as well as for providing advice to the businesses on operational issues and monitoring compliance within the company. In addition, each business area has its own export control organisation to manage the work at an operational level. To encourage collaboration and prioritise needs, Saab also has an export control council with representatives from various parts of the business.

Continuous internal training on export controls is provided for employees who come in contact with controlled products or technologies. Web-based introductory training is also available to Saab’s employees. For export control officers and other key employees, a biannual conference is held to increase
understanding of various export controls and related legal areas. We also work with other industries through various trade organisations in Sweden, the EU and the US and hold talks on legal issues for university students in Sweden.


Saab has drawn attention to the need for international harmonisation of export laws that are balanced and competitively neutral. This is why we were involved, for instance, in setting up the UN's Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates international trade in conventional arms.