Swiss weapons exports increase 14%

Building a tank at the Swiss defence contractor RUAG Keystone

Swiss companies last year exported government-approved war materiel to 64 countries with a total value of CHF510 million ($510 million), 14% more than the previous year. 

This content was published on February 26, 2019 minutes

Germany was the largest customer, taking deliveries worth CHF118 million, followed by Denmark, the US, Romania and Italy, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on TuesdayExternal link. Also on the list were Pakistan (CHF11 million), the United Arab Emirates (CHF9 million) and Saudi Arabia (CHF2.2 million). 

The Group for Switzerland without an Army criticised thisExternal link on Tuesday, saying the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were “substantially involved in the war in Yemen and shared responsibility for the humanitarian catastrophe that has been playing out there for years”. 

The Swiss government does not consider Saudi Arabia to be involved in a domestic or international conflict but says it has asked Swiss armament companies to use restraint in business deals with Saudi Arabia. 

‘Tense economic situation’ 

Explaining the increase, SECO noted that repairs had been included in the calculations for the first time. 

Ammunition and munitions components accounted for a third of the exports. Armoured wheeled vehicles were popular in Denmark (CHF59 million) and Romania (CHF22.5 million). The United States took CHF8 million worth of missiles. 

SECO said it had also approved applications worth CHF2 billion last year, up from CHF564 million in 2017. However, it didn’t see a trend in this increase. “The economic situation in the arms industry remains generally tense,” it said. 

Whether the increase in applications – it approved 2,279 and rejected 12 – leads to an increase in exports will be seen in the coming years, said Erwin Bollinger, head of bilateral economic relations at SECO. “Not all applications are used,” he added.

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