Business and War

New Agency to Boost Weapon Exports

Updated 3:56 PM

Since 1993 Swedish export of arms, ammunition and equipment for war has increased 500 percent according to the government's own figures. That figure includes anything meant to cause harm to others or damage in general, and the government wants to help boost this export.

They'll do that by establishing a new authority set to begin operations in August. The organization, would help facilitate the Swedish export of war materials.

Left Party member Jonas Sjöstedt, of the campaigning Red-Green opposition, spoke against the agency on the Swedish Radio News program P1 morgon. That despite his party's official position of wanting to increase Swedish weapon exports.

"We think it is completely unreasonable to establish a government authority, which would be a sort of advertising bureau for the weapon industry. We would to end it."

"We shouldn't export weapons to countries that have internal, armed conflicts like Thailand. That's why we want to tighten up both the export laws but also the import laws. Today we import weapons to Sweden from Israel which is an occupying power, to Belarus which is a dictatorship and that's why we, together with the Social Democrats and the Green Party of Sweden, have promised to improve the weapon export laws, unlike the Center-Right alliance, if we come to power."

Ewa Björling, member of the conservative Moderate Party and part of the center-right coalition, said that increased export was a good thing.

"I see it like this: we have a very strict weapon export control in Sweden and, with that in mind, and because we follow the rules that exist, I in fact welcome an increase in exports."

"I don't see an increase as a problem as long as we have strict control of the exports and, in addition, an overwhelming part of the exports, around two thirds, go to EU member states. To Norway, Switzerland, and well established allies. And if we further divide that up, to products of war involved in conflicts, then it's 95 percent that go to those types of countries."

Sweden's export of products for war during 2009 was worth 13.5 billion Swedish crowns or around 1.8 billion dollars, the highest figure ever and a 7 percent increase from the previous year. In 2009 Sweden exported products for war to 57 different countries. In 1990 it was only 33 other countries.

The manufacture of products for war is regulated by a law that forbids export without permission granted by a government agency. That permission must be "desirable from a security policy standpoint" according to the law and must not interfere with Sweden's foreign policy. But that allows sales to dictatorships like Saudia Arabia or countries in armed conflict like Pakistan and Thailand.

The recipient of the most war products from Sweden between 2005 and 2009 was South Africa. The United States, India, and Pakistan were also prominent recipients.