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Swiss arms exports reach 16-year high

Switzerland exported mainly armoured vehicles Keystone Archive

Sales of Swiss arms surpassed the SFr400-million ($329-million) mark in 2004 for the first time since 1988.

This content was published on February 8, 2005 - 13:15

The total volume of sales was up 6.2 per cent on the previous year at SFr402.4 million, thanks in particular to an increase in orders for armoured vehicles.

This was the fourth consecutive annual increase in weapons exports.

Armoured vehicles made up nearly half the arms exports in 2004.

But arms sales accounted only for 0.27 per cent of Switzerland’s total foreign trade in 2004, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Tuesday.

The biggest customer was neighbouring Germany (SFr66 million) ahead of Botswana (SFr60.8 million), Spain (SFr43.1 million), the Irish Republic (SFr42.5 million) and the United States (SFr34 million).

The United Arab Emirates, which bought bombs,torpedoes and rockets, was also among the top ten importers of Swiss armaments.

Saudi Arabia

Sales to Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, were down by around 50 per cent. Swiss parliamentarians have been calling for a ban on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia amid allegations of human rights abuses.

Officials said the government had rejected 18 requests for arms exports worth SFr1.5 million from ten different countries last year.

In total 2,193 requests were submitted to the federal authorities.

Armaments sales, including arms systems, ammunition, explosives and weapon components from Switzerland are subject to approval by the government.

Under Swiss law, exports to countries in conflict zones are banned.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland exported arms and weapon components worth SFr402 million ($330 million) last year, an increase of 6.2% on 2003.

The figure accounts for 0.27% of overall foreign trade.

Germany, Botswana, the Irish Republic and the US are the main buyers of Swiss arms.

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Key facts

The export of arms and weapons components is subject to approval by the Swiss authorities.
Sales to warring countries are banned under Swiss law.
The legislation covers arms systems, ammunition and explosives as well as other material used for combat training.

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