Last year Swedish companies exported 8.6 billion kronor worth of weapons, double what was exported just four years before.
Defence manufacturers play an important role in Sweden’s economy, with Saab and Bofors (owned by British BAE Systems) among the major exporters. In total, the arms industry accounted for 0.9 percent of Swedish goods exported in 2005.
Saab is a bigger exporter of weapons than all other similar Nordic companies combined. The company has some 14,000 employees and orders worth 48 billion kronor, some 75 percent of which is set to be exported, according to Svenska Dagbladet.
Swedish arms and defence equipment exports to countries with troops in Iraq were worth in excess of 1.8 billion kronor in 2005, according to government statistics. Arms exports to the United States were worth 745 million kronor, exports to Australia were worth 380 million and exports to the UK were worth 353 million. .
Hägglunds in Örnsköldsvik manufactures armoured vehicles and tracked vehicles.
The company is smiling with some 12 billion kronor of orders — five times as much as its turnover. During the past 10 years, turnover has tripled to 3 billion kronor, while the percentage of goods exported has gone up from 40 percent to 90 percent.
The company employs 10 percent of those working in the municipality.
Criticism of the booming industry is becoming louder.
“We export, to a greater extent, to countries that break human rights and are involved with war, said Ola Mattsson, spokesman for Svenska Fred.