Dutch arms export continues to grow

Uncontrolled transit of arms to conflict zones and dictatorships

Amsterdam, 20 February 2008 – The Netherlands strengthens its position as major arms exporter, with export licenses worth over one billion euro. In its ‘alternative annual report’ on Dutch arms exports, that is published in an English translation today, the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade clearly shows an increasing trend in Dutch arms exports over the past ten years, and especially the last four years. Sales of surplus defence material have played a key role in this trend.
In 2006 the Netherlands was the world’s fifth largest arms exporter. Sales to Indonesia (two corvettes), Venezuela (naval radars) and Chile (surplus F16s) took account of more than half the value of export licenses granted in 2006. The report reveals that the Netherlands allows sales of military equipment to both India and Pakistan, despite their tense relation, the conflict in Kashmir in particular, and the unstable situation in Pakistan. After years of a virtual embargo, Israel too has recently gained access to Dutch arms supplies.
Millions of euros of image intensifier tubes – the heart of night vision equipment – made in the Netherlands were exported to China, including for use with border security forces. Despite a European Union arms embargo against China, there are little problems for hi-tech optical equipment transfers because of its so called dual use.
Transit of arms through the Netherlands hardly knows any barriers, even when bound to war zones. Large amounts of US origin ammunition with destination Israel, could pass through Schiphol airport, even during the Lebanon war in the summer of 2006. Similarly, Spanish and Czech ammunition cargo was transported through the Netherlands on its way to Bangladesh, Philippines, Guatemala and Kazakhstan.
In their report “Analysis Dutch arms export licenses 2006” the Dutch Campaign against Arms Trade provides an extensive overview of facts and figures on the 2006 Dutch arms exports. The analysis is a unique source of the most recent available information.
For more information call co-author Frank Slijper: M: + 31 6 28504778