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04/12/2016

German weapon sales shoot through the roof

Trade & Society

German weapon sales shoot through the roof

German weapons have mostly been sold to other EU and NATO members, but there have been some notable exceptions.

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German weapons dealers have seen their exports top €4 billion in the first six months of this year alone. While small weapon sales fell, exports of small arms ammunition reached record highs. EurActiv Germany reports.

Germany exported a total of €4.029 billion in weapons and armaments in the first half of 2016: an increase of half a billion compared to the same period last year. According to the German government’s military equipment report, exports of ammunition for small weapons have multiplied by about ten times. This year, it has exported €283.3 million, compared with just €27 million in 2015.

Exports of the weapons themselves fell though. In the first six months, Berlin exported €11.6 million’s worth, about €0.8 million less than in 2015.

Most of the sales, €275 million’s worth, were made with other EU or NATO states (including Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Switzerland); however, €5.4 million in ammunition was sent to Iraq.

German public 'misled' on weapon exports

Germany recently released its report on arms exports, which showed that sales have nearly doubled, despite promises to scale back the number and value of weapons being sent abroad. EurActiv Germany reports.

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The biggest fans of German small weapons has so far been France, Iraq and Poland this year. Since 2014, Germany has armed the Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq, in their fight against ISIS. Berlin has so far authorised the sale of 16,000 G36 and G3 assault rifles, in addition to thousands of pistols, anti-tank weaponry and hand grenades.

In July, it was announced that Germany’s weapon exports would increase by 13% to over €4 billion for the first six months. The biggest contributor to the balance sheet was a warship built for Algeria, which ended up costing a billion euros.

The exports report is published by Germany’s economical affairs ministry, at half-year intervals. The responsible minister is Angela Merkel’s deputy, Sigmar Gabriel, who has long promised a more sensitive handling of arms exports.

Under the vice-chancellor’s watch, small weapon exports have fallen, but his critics have still accused him of authorising the sale of them to crisis countries like Saudi Arabia and of actually increasing the total amount of arms dealt.

EU sets sights on West Africa's gun problem

A €5.6 million EU funded programme in West Africa is pushing for the voluntary surrender of small and light arms that are in the hands of civilians in exchange for incentives like social amenities and development activities for residents. EurActiv Germany reports.

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One of Germany’s biggest customers is Turkey, which shot up from 25th on the list of buyers to a top-ten spot of 8th. In total, €76.4 billion in sales of weapons exports, including aircraft components, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground support equipment have been brokered with Ankara. The Turkish government is an important ally of Germany in regard to refugee policy and in the fight against ISIS.

Saudi Arabia, one of Berlin’s main geo-strategic partners in the Middle East, remains on the list of its main buyers, occupying 3rd place. Exports to the Wahhabi kingdom grew significantly to €484 million: an increase of two-and-a-half times the volume of last year.

Since 2008, Riyadh has been licensed to produce German weapon manufacturer Heckler & Koch’s G36 and G3 rifles. As a result, the Saudi Arabian army has been using these weapons since 2015 in its much-criticised offensive in Yemen.

Small arms like assault rifles, sub-machine guns and grenades are considered to be the most deadly weapons that are used in wars and conflicts. It is estimated that 19 out of 20 people killed in conflicts around the world meet their end on account of small arms.