The officials did not mince any words. “Your proposal has been rejected,” read the letter from Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control to Philipp Schack.
When he tried to learn more, he received no answer. Mr. Schack, the managing director of the mid-sized business Tital in the Sauerland region of Germany, had applied for an export license for his titanium casings.
It was supposed to be a purely routine bit of admin for the manager, whose company makes one-third of its €70 million sales with supplies for the defense industry. But not this time. The problem was that while the casings for the thermal imaging systems are delivered to France for use in Airbus Cougar helicopters, the customers waiting to buy the Cougars are in Uzbekistan.
The former Soviet republic is not considered a flawless democracy, and German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel wants to restrict defense industry exports to countries with questionable human rights.