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Swedish weapons exports on the rise

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Swedish weapons exports on the rise
A row of Combat Vehicle 90s
15:28 CET+01:00
Sweden sold weapons to the value of 13.5 billion kronor ($1.9 billion) in 2009, up 7 percent on the previous year, according to new figures released by the Swedish Agency for Non-Proliferation and Export Controls (Inspektionen för strategiska produkter - ISP).

"Of the total defence materiel exports, 80 percent went to well established partner countries, both within the EU and to countries like South Africa and the United States," said agency director-general Andreas Ekman Duse in a statement.

"As in other years, larger deals play their part and have a bearing on the statistics, such as sales of the Combat Vehicle 90 to the Netherlands and the JAS 39 Gripen [fighter jet] to South Africa," he said.

The export figures encompass products made by companies based in Sweden, regardless of the origins of the owners.

More than half (53 percent) of exports went to other EU countries, along with Norway and Switzerland.

27 percent was accounted for by countries defined by ISP as "established partners", including the US, Australia, South Africa, Canada, South Korea and Singapore.

The final 20 percent went to twenty different countries, dominated by Pakistan (1.4 billlion kronor) and India (901 million kronor), but also including Malaysia (129 million kronor), Thailand (81 million kronor) and the United Arab Emirates (900,000 kronor).

Green Party spokesman Lars Ångström said he was appalled to see Saudia Arabia on the list of countries buying defence equipment from Sweden.

"Saudi Arabia seriously and systematically violates human rights as defined by the UN, and it is unacceptable that exports have gone there," he said in a statement.

Ångström was also distressed to see Bahrain, Oman and Malaysia among the recipient nations.

The Netherlands was the biggest buyer of Swedish defence equipment in 2009, paying a total of 2.5 billion kronor. Completing the list of the top five purchasers were South Africa (1.7 billion), Pakistan (1.4 billion), and the United Kingdom, which spent a fraction more than India's 901 million kronor.

ISP's role in the process involves approving licences for the export of military equipment. Permission is conditional on a number of factors, with certain barriers put in place if a country finds itself at war. As in the case with the United States however, the agency can continue to authorise sales to warfaring countries if there are overriding defence and security policy reasons deemed to tip the balance in favour of continued trade.

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