June 19, 2018 / 10:17 PM / 5 months ago

Germany approved 6.2 billion euros worth of arms exports in 2017, down 9 percent from 2016

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany approved arms exports worth 6.24 billion euros (£5.4 billion) last year, down 9 percent from 2016, according to a government report rubber-stamped by the cabinet on Wednesday.

However, significant orders including a warship for Algeria and a submarine for Egypt boosted for sales to non-NATO and non-EU countries by 100 million euros to 3.795 billion euros.

Germany is one of the world’s five biggest arms exporters, according to the SIPRI research group, but weapons sales are a sensitive issue there due to the country’s World War Two history.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition agreed in February to limit arms sales further, and to work on harmonising export controls in the European Union.

The German office of Amnesty International sharply criticised Germany for continuing to approve the sale of weapons to countries with “catastrophic human rights records” and those involved in armed conflicts such as Saudi Arabia.

“For example, it is incomprehensible why the delivery of thousands of sub-machineguns to India has been repeatedly approved although security forces there are known for excessive use of force,” said Mathias John, an expert on arms sales at the group, in a statement.

The group urged the German government to revamp its arm sales approval process and standardise its export policies to include binding human rights criteria.

The government report’s figures were line with preliminary data released in January.

German export approvals for small arms were steady at around 47.8 million euros, with France the top buyer.

Germany also became the first EU member to carry out post-shipment controls of its arms exports in 2017, the report said.

Reporting by Gernot Heller; Writing by Andrea Shalal and David Stamp; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

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