German arms sales drop almost 10 percent | News | DW | 20.06.2018
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German arms sales drop almost 10 percent

The German government approved significantly fewer arms sales last year, official figures show. However, weapons exports to non-NATO countries increased, with Algeria and Egypt the main recipients.

German weapons exports fell by around €600 million ($695 million) in 2017 compared to the year before, according to figures set to be published on Wednesday.

Arms sales totaled some €6.24 billion in 2017, roughly 9 percent less than in 2016. However, it still marks the third-highest annual total, following two record years in 2015 and 2016.

The upcoming Military Equipment Export Report is set to confirm preliminary figures already provided by the German government back in January.

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Oberndorf, hometown of Heckler & Koch

Permits to EU and NATO countries made up fewer than 40 percent of all exports, with the majority of revenue generated from sales to African and Middle Eastern countries. However, the government insisted the large figure was mainly due to a small number of high-value individual orders, including the sale of a frigate to the Algerian navy and a submarine to the Egyptian military.

In fact, those countries were the main recipients of German arms in 2017, followed by fellow NATO members Lithuania and the United States, and then by Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Fueling conflict?

The German government's arms sales to the Saudi kingdom remain a major point of criticism, given the country's military campaign against Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

Meanwhile, the export of small arms, which are monitored particularly closely because they are commonly used in domestic conflicts and civil wars, rose slightly to around €48 million.

Read more: Should Germany stop exporting arms to Saudi Arabia?

However, the German government insists it pursues "restrictive and responsible arms export policy."

In January, the government's coalition partners — the conservative CDU and center-left Social Democrats — agreed in their policy outline to issue no more permits for arms shipments to countries involved in the war in Yemen.

For the first time, officials also carried out spot checks in India and the United Arab Emirates to ensure that the arms shipments end up with the correct recipient.

dm/kms (dpa, Reuters)