Swiss arms exports drop

Swiss arms exports for the first half of 2009 dropped nearly five per cent to SFr331.4 million ($312 million), despite booming sales to Saudi Arabia.

This content was published on August 4, 2009 minutes

According to figures released by the Federal Customs Office on Tuesday, about 46 per cent of arms exports so far this year have gone to Germany, Denmark and Saudi Arabia, the three biggest buyers.

While sales to Pakistan dropped from SFr67 million over the same period last year to just SFr1.46 million so far this year, Saudi Arabia's purchases totalled SFr67 million during the first half of 2009 compared with SFr948,000 for the first half of 2008.

The numbers provide ammunition for anti-weapons-export activists, like the group Switzerland without an Army, which have heavily criticised the sales. They noted that the weapons could end up in countries with poor human rights records or be used in conflicts.

On November 29, voters will decide on the fate of an initiative to end arms exports. The government has rejected the proposal, saying the industry sustains 5,100 jobs.

Totals for the first half of 2008, a record year, topped SFr347 million. and agencies

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