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Sharp rise in arms exports

Arms exports from Switzerland rose by 55 per cent in 2008, and included a massive leap in sales to Saudi Arabia.

The Swiss arms export market was valued at SFr721,968 ($620,713) million in 2008 compared with SFr464,479 in the previous year, the Federal Customs Office said on Tuesday.

Exports to Saudi Arabia rose from SFr485,294 in 2007 to SFr32 million in 2008. Elsewhere in the Middle East – the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait - sales dropped off and in Egypt fell by more than 30 per cent to SFr30,960,

Sales to Switzerland's biggest customer, Pakistan, went up by a third in the year to SFr109 million, while exports to Denmark, the next major client, doubled to SFr83 million in 2008.

Germany and Belgium followed, with bigger orders placed from Canada, Finland, Slovenia, Turkey, Romania, Estonia and Malaysia. Sales to the United States, Brazil and Chile dropped.

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