lethal weapons

Hello to Arms?

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Defense companies face barriers to sale.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If the German government continues to ban weapons exports to countries with poor human rights records, defense companies will look for other ways to access markets.

  • Facts


    • Germany has been overtaken by China as the world’s third biggest arms exporter.
    • The Sipri peace research institute found that Germany’s share of the market for arms has fallen to 5 percent, down by more than 50 percent.
    • Rheinmetall is Germany’s biggest weapons producer and is about to announce losses at its annual shareholders’ meeting on Thursday.
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Germany’s status as a heavyweight weapons producer may be under threat as its share of the world’s market falls to 5 percent, down by a half.

A new report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) showed that China has pushed Germany into fourth place, becoming the world’s third-largest exporter of arms after the United States and Russia.

Germany is still a leading manufacturer of submarines and tanks. However, the industry is being hit by tough export rules imposed by Sigmar Gabriel, vice chancellor and economics minister.

It means that exports to countries with poor human rights records, such as Saudi Arabia, are almost impossible for Germany’s weapons makers.

The hard line taken by Mr. Gabriel, who is leader of the Social Democrats, reflects the views of the majority of the German population.

This policy means financial difficulties for the arms industry. For example, Rheinmetall, Germany’s biggest defense company, is to announce a loss on Thursday at its shareholder meeting.

“For our defense business, 2014 was a very tough year,” Armin Papperger, the company’s chief executive told Handelsblatt. “We have to talk about the role of the industry and about Germany’s security.”

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