German weapons exports hit ten-year high

Germany’s vice-chancellor and economy minister Sigmar Gabriel still wants to massively reduce arms exports to controversial countries, despite a report showing the government approved the highest amount of weapons deals for ten years in 2013.

German weapons exports hit ten-year high
A Leopard 2 tank. Photo: DPA

Gabriel, from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), whose department is responsible for approving German arms exports, will examine gun and tank exports more closely before approving them, the economy ministry said on Wednesday.

But that is likely to cost jobs in the already weakened German defence industry.

A report from Gabriel's department published on Wednesday showed the German government approved export licenses for arms worth almost €6 billion last year, including a record amount for deals with countries outside of the EU and Nato.

And its biggest customers have questionable human rights records.

Weapon manufacturers sent €562 million worth of arms to developing countries, including €12 million to the world’s poorest nations, the annual government report into weapons exports published on Wednesday morning showed.

Some of Germany’s biggest customers have serious question marks over their human rights records, including Algeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It was the highest amount of weapons sold to developing countries since 2005.

The deals were approved by the last coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc and the Liberals (FDP).

The value of arms export licences granted in 2013 stood at €5.85 billion – a 24 percent rise on 2012 and the highest figure since 2004.

Germany’s biggest customers were Algeria, Qatar, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Israel.

SEE ALSO: Why Germany should stop arming the world

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