Netherlands among top five arms exporters

DPA, 29 december 2006

Dutch arms exports soared to $1.6 billion in 2005, pushing the Netherlands into the top five military exporters for the year, Volkskrant newspaper said Thursday.

Chile, which has taken surplus Dutch frigates and F-16 strike aircraft over recent years, bought arms amounting to euro 296 million in 2005.

Egypt spent euro 40 million in 2005, the most recent year for which figures were available, according to research conducted by Martin Broek, an activist who has pressed the state for years to provide details of arms trading activities.

Much of the trade was in high-value simulation systems and electronic components for tanks, helicopters and aircraft produced elsewhere, and much of it was conducted with other NATO members, according to Broek.

The main exporters included the defence ministry and companies such as Stork Aerospace, Damen shipbuilders and Thales, the Dutch branch of which makes naval defence systems.

Arms have also been shipped to Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan and Peru via Dutch ports, he said.

Broek predicted arms exports of the Netherlands in 2006 would be even higher, with big orders expected from Chile and Indonesia.