Swiss weapons exports on the rise

Piranha armoured vehicles are one of Switzerland's prize military exports.

Swiss weapons exports have reached their highest level since 1989, despite an embargo implemented during the United States-led war in Iraq.

This content was published on February 4, 2004 - 17:06

According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), sales jumped by over a third in 2003 to reach SFr379 million ($302 million).

The sale of armoured vehicles, air defence systems and ammunition boosted exports by more than SFr100 million last year.

More than two-thirds of all weapons destined for the export market were sold within Europe.

Just one in ten weapons found their way to Asia, America and Africa.

Neighbouring Germany was the biggest importer of Swiss military hardware, with sales of SFr77.3 million, ahead of Spain, which bought arms totalling just over SFr60 million.

Sweden, Botswana and the United States all bought weapons from Switzerland worth over SFr30 million.

Weapons embargo

Seco said the government’s decision last March to impose a weapons embargo on all parties involved in the Iraq conflict did not have any significant influence on sales.

Spain, Botswana and Germany were the biggest clients for armoured vehicles, which represented around 30 per cent of exports.

The Swiss authorities received over 2,000 requests for permission to export weapons in 2003. Sixteen were turned down.

Export requests to twelve countries – including Israel and Turkey – were rejected.

Swiss arms exports are subject to government approval and are based on international law.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Weapons exports rose by more than SFr100 million in 2003 to reach SFr379 million.
Armoured vehicles represented 30 per cent of exports, while fire control systems accounted for 20 per cent of sales abroad.
The main buyers were neighbouring Germany, as well as Spain, Sweden, Botswana and the United States.

End of insertion

In brief

The Swiss government cannot export weapons to nations at war.

Private companies are allowed to export to these countries under conditions, but the arms sold should not be used in military operations.

Export requests to twelve countries – including Israel and Turkey – were rejected.

End of insertion

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