Switzerland exported half a billion francs worth of arms in six months

Techniker der Ruag ruesten Kleinshelter-Gelaendefahrzeuge (Typ: KA 0,9 t-4Pl 4×4 GL MB G) mit einem Funksystem aus, am Mittwoch, 16. Oktober 2019 in einer Halle der Ruag beim Waffenplatz in Thun. (KEYSTONE/Peter Klaunzer)


Swiss companies exported CHF501 million (around $530 million) in war materiel in the first half of the year, almost twice as much as the same period in 2019.

July 15, 2020 – 17:21SRF/ac

During the same period last year, just over CHF273 million francs of arms left the country.  According to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, such a jump in numbers is not unusual as large defence contracts can have a strong impact on one financial quarter and then be absent in the next.

This year, war materiel was exported to 55 countries. Air defence systems and armoured vehicles were the two main big ticket items. The largest importer of Swiss war materiel this year so far is Indonesia, with a deliveries worth CHF110 million (for air defence systems). Botswana was another big client with a good CHF64 million worth of armoured vehicles.

Among European customers, Denmark leads the list spending around CHF80 million on armoured vehicles. Romania follows in second place with an export value of almost CHF58 million.

Top 20 buyers of Swiss arms (first half of 2020)

Indonesia   110,937,203
Denmark      80,520,691
Botswana     64,475,996
Romania       57,979,839
Germany       50,741,438
Brazil            18,002,370
US                 17,279,307
Italy              14,360,059
France            9,019,315
Ireland            8,100,803
UK                  7,784,448
Sweden           7,146,241
Austria            5,297,998
Oman              5,286,872
Spain               5,276,584
Australia          4,339,431
Lithuania          4,181,730
Norway             4,160,168
Belgium             3,744,461
Bahrain              2,787,135

Switzerland continues to supply warring countries in the Yemen conflict. For example, weapons worth a total of almost CHF5 million were exported to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain.

The group Switzerland without an Army and the NGO Terre des hommes called the significant increase in arms exports shocking. They criticised the arms industry for claiming economic hardship in order to achieve a relaxation of export criteria even though figures show that business is good.

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