Switzerland exported half a billion francs worth of arms in six months

Botswana was a big client with a good CHF64 million worth of armoured vehicles. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Swiss companies exported CHF501 million ($530 million) in war materiel in the first half of the year, almost twice as much as the same period in 2019.  

This content was published on July 15, 2020 - 17:21

During the same period last year, just over CHF273 million of arms left the country.  According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, such a jump in numbers is not unusual as large defence contracts can have a strong impact on one financial quarter and then be absent in the next. 

This year, war materiel was exported to 55 countries. Air defence systems and armoured vehicles were the two main big ticket items. The largest importer of Swiss war materiel this year so far is Indonesia, with a deliveries worth CHF110 million (for air defence systems). Botswana was another big client with a good CHF64 million worth of armoured vehicles. 

Among European customers, Denmark leads the list spending around CHF80 million on armoured vehicles. Romania follows in second place with an export value of almost CHF58 million. 

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Switzerland has supplied warring countries in the Yemen conflict for many years. For example, weapons worth a total of almost CHF5 million have been exported to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. 

The group Switzerland without an Army and the NGO Terre des hommes called the significant increase in arms exports shocking. They criticised the arms industry for claiming economic hardship in order to achieve a relaxation of export criteria even though figures show that business is good. 

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