Germany doubles arms exports in 2015

19th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Germany doubled its arms exports last year to around eight billion euros ($8.9 billion), government figures showed on Friday, in contradiction to Berlin's pledge to rein in the amount of weapons Europe's biggest economy sells abroad.

The increase was driven largely by "special factors," Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel explained when presenting the data.

The economy ministry is in charge of approving arms exports and Gabriel had promised to limit them when he took up his position at the end of 2013.

In particular, Berlin wanted to curb exports of light weapons and track them closely once they had left the country.

Gabrial cited big-ticket contracts for tanker airplanes to Britain and guided missiles to South Korea among the "special factors".

The volume of exports was also inflated by a delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Qatar, a contract approved by the previous government in 2013, the minister explained.

If it had been up to him, "I would not have approved them," he insisted.

Before Gabriel's Social Democrat SPD party agreed to share power with Angela Merkel's conservative CDU party, the CDU had been in a coalition with the liberal FDP.

Gabriel accused the previous administration of "not applying the rules as they should have been applied."

Overall, Gabriel insisted the government was making progress in achieving its declared goals and in 2014, the exports of light weapons had dropped sharply.

Detailed arms exports figures for 2015 are to be released in June.

© 2016 AFP

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