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Arms exports rise again

Swiss exports of war materiel rose again in the first nine months of this year to SFr508.1 million ($496.1 million), bucking the overall export trend.

According to the Federal Customs Office, the biggest destinations were Germany and Saudi Arabia, but Pakistan has reduced its orders.

The nine-month result was up by SFr9 million, or 1.8 per cent, on the same period last year. It continues a trend, as last year arms exports from Switzerland rose by 55 per cent as a whole.

However, the figures are in contrast to those for the entire Swiss export sector, which dropped by around a sixth in the first nine months of 2009 compared with the same period in 2008.

Germany was the major arms client for the first nine months of 2009, at SFr97.1 million, almost SFr40 million than the same time last year. Saudi Arabia ordered SFr66.4 million worth of arms, a huge increase on the SFr1.4 million it spent in the same period last year. Other big buyers were Denmark, Belgium and Britain.

The biggest drop came from Pakistan, which reduced its arms requirements from SFr91.4 million in 2008 to just SFr1.5 million, said the Federal Customs Office on Thursday.

The figures come a month before the electorate is to have its say – for the third time since 1972 – on an initiative calling for a ban on the export of war materiel, with the exception of demining systems and those for civil protection.

The government has warned against acceptance of the initiative, arguing that Swiss technical innovation and the arms industry's 5,100 jobs were at stake. and agencies


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