UK and US sign defence technology treaty

UK defence and technology contractors could soon find it easier to move their innovations across the pond after Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush signed a wide-ranging export treaty via videoconference.

Every new piece of defence equipment and technology will no longer need to be granted an individual export licence, which should make for quicker cooperation and improved interoperability between the allies armies - and easier for UK companies to gain contracts in the US.

According to the Financial Times, over 8,000 such licences were given last year by the US government to allow exports to the UK. The treaty is expected to halve that number.

"In the current security environment, with our forces operating together around the world, it is vital that we do all we can to work together on interoperability and on technology research and innovation," said Lord Paul Drayson, the Minister of Defence Equipment and Support. "Today's announcement is important for our armed forces and for our defence industries."

The accord must still be ratified by parliament and the US senate.