Surge in arms exports

Swiss arms exports grew by 63 per cent during the first six months of 2008, with Pakistan the biggest customer, according to the Federal Customs Office.

This content was published on July 22, 2008 - 13:09

Exports totalled SFr348 million ($342 million) and are set for a 20-year high.

The figures took into account the delivery in April of an air defence system to Pakistan. The controversial order was first approved by the cabinet in 2006 but temporarily suspended due to tensions in the country.

Denmark spent SFr44 million on Swiss arms, making it the second-largest buyer, followed by Germany at SFr36 million, Belgium at SFr35 million and Britain at SFr25 million.

Last month the government approved the export of weapons to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and South Korea.

A pacifist group, Switzerland Without an Army, has collected enough signatures to force a nationwide vote for an arms export ban. No date for the ballot has been set so far.

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