Sales of war materiel down 20 per cent

PC-21's were among the munitions sold to the United Arab Emirates in 2012

Swiss weapons manufacturers exported CHF700 million ($753 million) of goods in 2012, 20 per cent down on 2011, when record profits largely stemmed from sales to the United Arab Emirates. Materiel was delivered to 68 countries worldwide.

This content was published on February 26, 2013 minutes and agencies

The biggest customer in 2012 was Germany, which received materiel, including tank parts and air defence parts, valued at CHF245 million, a quarter of the total amount.

There was again significant Swiss trade with the United Arab Emirates, which received unarmed PC-21 training aircraft valued at around CHF133 million. However, this was much less than the value of sales to the UAE in 2011, when planes worth CHF258 million were delivered, contributing to record profits for the Swiss weapons industry.

Weapons exports to the UAE have been controversial: a scandal erupted in 2012, when Swiss-made grenades, originally exported to the UAE in 2003 and 2004, were discovered in the possession of Syrian rebels. They had been passed on to Jordan in 2004, and from there continued to Syria.

In October 2012 the Swiss cabinet approved an amendment to the Ordinance on War Material, covering the commitment by customers not to re-export material bought from Switzerland. It came into force on November 1, 2012.

Back in the spring of 2009, Switzerland had stopped issuing new permits for the sale of munitions to Egypt, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, although it continued to allow the delivery of replacement parts as well as ammunition for weapons that had been approved earlier.

Other major importers of Swiss munitions in 2012 included Italy (CHF61 million), the United States (CHF32 million) and India (CHF27 million).

According to its annual report on control of the export of small arms and light weapons, export of 9697 such weapons was approved in 2012 by the Swiss government, compared to 10,603 in 2011.

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