New figures on arms exports: falling at a high level

The new benchmarks are not particularly flattering for the German government. The Economics Minister prefers not to comment on them.

Brigitte Zypries looked at jet engines on Wednesday. She did not comment on arms exports Photo: dpa

The number of German arms exports is falling – but at a high level. According to the interim report that Minister Brigitte Zypries (SPD) presented to the Cabinet on Wednesday, the German government approved arms exports with a total volume of 2.42 billion euros from January to April this year. In the same period last year, the figure was 3.3 billion euros.

There are no direct comparative figures for the years before 2015. The reason: Normally, the German government only discloses half-year and full-year figures. Because the legislative period is coming to an end, the Ministry of Economics is already presenting the figure for the first four months of 2017. Extrapolated to twelve months, this would be significantly higher than the average figure for the past ten years. However, conclusions can only be drawn to a limited extent, as the permits can be distributed unevenly over the year.

In addition to the interim report, the Ministry of Economics also presented the overall report for 2016 on Wednesday. The approximate order of magnitude of the licensing volume was already known beforehand. Compared with 2015, arms exports fell by around 1 billion euros to 6.85 billion. However, 2015 was a record year, and thus arms exports in 2016 still reached the second-highest level ever.

Economics Minister Zypries did not comment on the figures on Wednesday. Criticism came from the opposition. "It is particularly worrying that six of the top 10 buyers of German defense equipment are third countries: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Egypt, Singapore and South Korea," said Jan van Aken (Left Party). Green Party MP Agnieszka Brugger called exports to the Middle East a "high-risk game with fire" "not only in view of the brutal war in Yemen and the current Qatar crisis."

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