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German arms exports rise to € 7.7 billion

by Claudia Isabel Rittel

Germany exported more arms in 2006 than in previous years. The Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) calculates that the value of individual and collective export licenses grew from € 6.2 billion in 2004 and 2005 to € 7.7 billion in 2006. A particularly sharp rise was seen in collective export licenses for arms and components exported to other EU or NATO countries. The Federal Government publishes no details of the final destination of these exports. So it cannot be ruled out, states the GKKE's 2007 Arms Export Report, that a growing volume of arms made in Germany are reaching developing countries. Direct exports to developing countries accounted for over 20 % of total arms exports in 2006, which was on a par with previous years.

The churches are particularly critical of exports to international trouble spots and countries where human rights are not guaranteed. In 2000, in line with the EU code of conduct on arms exports, Germany’s Federal Government adopted new principles for German exports. They were actually supposed to prevent such exports. The GKKE is now demanding a fundamental change in licensing practice, one which would require the official approval of export applications to be substantiated, not their denial. What is also needed, the GKKE argues, is closer political monitoring of arms exports. Parliamentarians, however, show no particular interest in the matter. According to the GKKE, the Bundestag has failed to scrutinise any of the last three arms export reports presented by the Federal Government. (cir)