Sven Giegold

My first Arms Export Report

Dear friends, Dear all,

Our Green-led Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (Germany) has published its first Military Equipment Export Report of the new Federal Government with precise data for 2021 as well as with the latest arms export figures for 2022. Since the “traffic light coalition” took office, I have been responsible for arms export licences for the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, which is in charge of these issues. Nothing about my work as State Secretary concerns me more than this responsibility. I am guided by the applicable law and the conviction that arms are an ethically very special good. Weapons only belong in the hands of countries that share common security interests with us and take human rights, democracy and the rule of law seriously.


Never before has the Federal Republic of Germany approved more arms exports than in 2021: €9.4 billion! In 2020, by contrast, the figure was €5.8 billion. Only three per cent of the value was accounted for by the new Federal Government. 97 per cent were the responsibility of the previous government of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats (“Grand Coalition”). The three per cent were almost exclusively exports to EU/NATO or NATO-equivalent countries. A large order worth €4 billion from Egypt for warships and air defence was primarily responsible for the increase compared to 2020. The final approval was given by the previous government shortly before the new Federal Government took office.


Of the total value in 2021, only a share of 36.4% (2020: 49.9%) was accounted for by licences for deliveries to EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries. Export licences worth €5.95 billion (2020: €2.92 billion) were issued for third countries. To third countries (including many developing countries), the previous government approved arms exports of €5.95 billion for 2021. This is above the average of the annual values for licences in the period 2017 to 2021 of €3.74 billion p.a. The total value of licences for particularly problematic small arms and small arms parts amounted to €43.9 million in 2021 (2020: €37.6 million). Of this, €43.46 million and thus approx. 99% of the licence value was for EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries. Licences for likewise particularly sensitive light weapons and light weapons parts were issued in 2021 with a value of approx. €15.6 million. EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries accounted for approx. 14.5 million € and thus 93% of the licence value.


Now to 2022 (new government): This year, according to provisional figures, I approved individual licences for the export of military equipment worth € 5.28 billion on behalf of our ministry (cut-off date 30 August). In 2022, licences for deliveries to EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries accounted for 76.1 % (annual value 2021: 36.4 %) with €4.01 billion. A large-volume procurement project by the Netherlands, which is scheduled to run for several years, has a significant share in this. The share of third countries is 23.9% in 2022 (2021: 63.6%; 2020: 50.1%). The approval value for EU/NATO and NATO-equivalent countries as well as Ukraine and value partner South Korea together account for approx. 92.6% (2021: 61.6%). So far, only 7.4% went to all other third countries!


Germany’s support for Ukraine, necessary and legitimate under international law, accounted for a significant share of the arms exports. Approx. € 724.5 million went to Ukraine in 2022. That is 57.3% of all licences issued to third countries in 2022 so far. For developing countries, the share of the value of arms export licences (excluding Ukraine) in 2022 has so far been only 0.6%, at €29.08 million (annual value 2021: 48.9%; 2020: 18.0%).


The lower values for arms exports to third countries are in line with Germany’s commitment to a restrictive licensing practice for arms exports. This applies especially to countries with systematic human rights violations. At the same time, the new Federal Government has not yet taken many important decisions in the responsible Federal Security Council. The values can and will therefore still change by the end of the year.


Notably, this first arms export report of the traffic light coalition is more transparent than its predecessors. For the first time, the data for light weapons are also published separately. We are working on the technical and legal prerequisites for even more transparency in subsequent years.


As agreed in the coalition agreement, the Federal Government is currently drafting an Arms Export Control Act under the leadership of our Ministry. For the first time, the Act is intended to explicitly enshrine the Federal Government’s arms export control in law. The preparatory work has almost been completed after broad consultation with academia, the arms industry, non-governmental organisations and peace initiatives. We will present the key points for the Arms Export Act at the beginning of autumn. Read more here.


In the Arms Export Control Act, deliveries to allies and value partners are to be simplified and made less bureaucratic. The control of arms exports to third countries will be regulated in a more binding manner and special emphasis will be placed on respect for human rights.


I hope that this interim report also shows you: Positive changes can be brought about in the institutions on the basis of the coalition agreement of the traffic light coalition. I will stay tuned!


With best regards from Berlin

Sven Giegold




You can read the press release of our ministry here. (German Only)


Download the complete Military Equipment Export Report 2021 of the Federal Government here (in German).

Category: Attention lobby!, BMWK

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