Germany authorizes record arms exports

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Germany approved more arms exports in 2021 than ever before. This is according to a preliminary report from the Ministry of the Economy, which was published on Tuesday. According to the report, the value of armaments fell from 5.82 billion in 2020 to 9.35 billion euros last year.

According to the report, by far the largest customer of German arms exports is Egypt. In 2021, weapons worth 4.34 billion euros were approved for the country in northeast Africa alone. Of these, 95% were arms exports for the maritime sector and air defence, the economy ministry reported. Other buyers of German arms exports were the United States (1 billion euros), the Netherlands (0.82 billion euros) and Singapore (0.62 billion euros).

In total, German arms manufacturers sold weapons of war worth 4.2 billion euros in 2021. These include, for example, tanks, submarines, warships and small firearms. In addition, orders for other defense equipment, such as transport vehicles or sensor technology, for a total of 5.1 billion euros have been approved.

According to the Ministry of Economy, this high figure was “mainly due to decisions taken by the previous government”. Since the “traffic light” government took office on December 8, only 309 million euros of goods had been ordered, “almost exclusively”. to EU and NATO countries.

In fact, it was learned in December that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and her Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had approved the sale of three warships and 16 air defense systems shortly before its entry active. Peter Altmaier (CDU), the then economics minister, informed the Bundestag of the deal just a day before Scholz was elected chancellor – without disclosing the value of the exports.

What is explosive about this is that the government was only in office on an executive basis during this time. It is common practice that no more ambitious political decisions are taken at this stage – especially if the successor government does not agree.

A stricter law will be launched this year

In its coalition agreement, the new “traffic light” government agreed to a more restrictive approach to arms exports. The federal government wants to introduce a new arms export law this year. “If everything goes as planned, we will have a first bill in the second half of the year,” State Secretary for the Economy Sven Giegold told the “taz” newspaper on Tuesday. “Decisions on arms exports need a restrictive and clear legal basis,” he said, explaining the plan.

According to Giegold, there will be a series of expert hearings on the subject in the spring. “I will listen to everyone – the peace movement as well as the arms industry,” he announced. After that, the key points of the proposed law should be worked out by the summer and approved by the cabinet. The bill would then be drafted on that basis.

The new law should include administrative regulations and policy principles already in place, Giegold explained. “In this way, we will enshrine in law the procedural bases and control options that have so far only been contained in sub-legal administrative rules.” The so-called end-use control of weapons of war and other military equipment will be extended, he added.

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