How German arms sales are shrinking, despite global weapons race
Berlin's arms sales compared to the rest of the world have fallen off sharply over the last five years, despite the global arms trade reaching a quarter-century high.
A new study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released on Sunday gives a frightening insight into an accelerating global demand for arms.
Weapons sales over the period 2012-2016 hit their highest point since the end of the Cold War. India increased its arms imports during this period by 43 percent, making it the largest importer in the world. Vietnam, meanwhile, spent 202 percent more on weaponry compared with the period 2007-2011.
The USA and Russia were the countries which profited most from this global arms race, both increasing exports by just under a quarter.
But one traditional arms exporter stood out for the fact that it broke with the trend.
The report noted that Germany’s arms exports in the five-year period from 2012-2016 dropped by 36 percent in comparison with the preceding five years. It was nevertheless the fifth largest exporter of weapons in the world, behind China in third and and France in fourth.
Germany's government pledged in 2013 to reduce its arms exports, and Pieter Wezeman, an expert at SIPRI, told The Local that government policy was likely to have had some effect in pushing down arms sales.
He pointed to dampened sales to Saudi Arabia, which increased its overall purchases by 212 percent over the last five years.
"Saudi Arabia could have become a bigger market, but the current government took a stricter approach to sales there," Wezeman said.
He contrasted Germany with France where "there is hardly a public debate on arms exports".
"When there is, the government is questioned on why it has failed to secure a certain arms deal or why it has not done enough to support the arms industry.”
"EU countries had to cut back on arms purchases and they were an important market for Germany."