War materiel exports reach new peak

Switzerland exported war materiel worth a record SFr873 million ($973.5 million) last year, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco).

This content was published on February 28, 2012 minutes and agencies

The increase of 36 per cent on 2010 is due to the sale of 25 Swiss-built Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft to the United Arab Emirates.

A Seco statement on Tuesday said the sale of aircraft was listed in the war materiel statistics because it could not be ruled out that the PC-21 plane could be adapted with fixed points for weapons.

Switzerland exported war materiel to a total of 68 countries, including neighbouring Germany and Italy, as well as Belgium and Spain. Such exports are subject to approval by the state.

Seco added that it “exercised restraint” for exports of war materiel to countries in North Africa and the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt.

The pacifist Switzerland without an Army group criticised the government for ignoring the country's humanitarian tradition.

In 2009, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by pacifists and centre-right parties to ban arms exports.

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