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Weapons Big increase in Swiss arms exports for 2019

armoured truck

Armoured vehicles were the top export.

(© Keystone / Gaetan Bally)

Swiss firms exported more weapons last year than the previous year, three-quarters of them to other European countries.

Swiss manufacturers delivered weapons to a value of CHF728 million ($759.9 million) to 71 countries in 2019, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Tuesdayexternal link.

The figure is CHF218.1 million higher than in 2018, making a 43% increase.

Denmark was the biggest client, buying weapons to a value of CHF155.3 million. Most of this (CHF150 million) was a delivery of armoured vehicles. Germany was the second-biggest buyer (CHF125.8 million), then Romania (CHF111.8 million), Bangladesh (CHF55.2 million), and the United States (CHF38.5 million).

Armoured vehicles were the most popular purchase, followed by ammunition and parts, fire-control systems, guns, and fighter jet parts.

On Tuesday, the Group for a Switzerland without an Army, an NGO that aims to abolish the Swiss army, criticised the continued Swiss arms exports to countries where “human rights are massively violated”. 

They mentioned Bangladesh, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.

Amnesty Switzerland was also critical. It said Swiss arms exports may only account for 0.23% of annual exports from Switzerland, but they remain "politically explosive". 

"Switzerland continues to supply arms to states that are in armed conflict and to states that systematically and seriously violate human rights. Such problematic transactions are clear arguments for stricter arms export controls, as called for by the corrective [people's] initiative", said Patrick Walder of Amnesty Switzerland in a statement.

Campaigners for a ban on Swiss arms exports have handed in the necessary number of signatures to force a nationwide vote on the issue.

(Kai Reusser /


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