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Arms exports reach new record

Swiss arms exports bucked the country’s general export decline in 2009, rising by 0.8 per cent compared with the previous year.

Arms were exported to 74 countries and sales increased to SFr727.7 million ($683 million), according to figures released by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) on Wednesday.

In contrast, overall commodity exports dropped by 13.5 per cent compared with 2008.

Switzerland’s five top arms customers were Germany, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Britain and Belgium. Most arms went to Europe (69 per cent) and Asia (25 per cent).

The biggest orders included the partial delivery of eight air defence systems and munitions to Saudi Arabia and armoured vehicles to Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark and Spain. Various munitions and hand grenades were supplied to Britain.

Last November, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by a coalition of peace groups and centre-left parties to ban weapons exports and other war materiel.

The government had warned approval would cost thousands of jobs and jeopardize the country's defence capacity. and agencies

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