UK JET FIGHTER SALES TAKE FLIGHT

THE GOV­ERN­MENT IS MAK­ING BIL­LIONS FROM SELL­ING ARMS - BUT CAM­PAIGN­ERS WARN OF ‘DEV­AS­TAT­ING IM­PACT’

Derby Telegraph - - News Graphic - By PETER CHAPPELL

THE UK sold £14bn worth of arms overseas last year - a record high.

That is ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures from the Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional Trade. The £14bn was a jump of nearly 50% from £9bn in 2017 and is the high­est amount on mod­ern record.

Fig­ures go back as far as 1983, when £1.5bn was made from sell­ing arms overseas.

It has gen­er­ally risen

each year since.

Fighter jets and other aero­space equip­ment ac­counted for a whop­ping 96% of all UK arms ex­ports in 2018. The UK’s ex­port mar­ket is fo­cused on the Mid­dle East, ac­count­ing for more than three-quar­ters of the UK’s arms sales (77%).

That was up from 66% in 2017. The rest of the sales went to North Amer­ica (18%), Europe (11%), and Asia Pa­cific (9%).

The data does not pro­vide fig­ures at a coun­try level but the rise re­flects large trade deals in­volv­ing fighter jets signed be­tween the UK and Qatar last year. The fig­ures reveal that the UK is the sec­ond­biggest de­fence ex­porter in the world, be­hind the USA.

In re­cent years the Saudi-led war in Yemen has created a huge mar­ket which UK firms are keen to sell to.

The war in Yemen had killed 6,872 civil­ians and wounded 10,768 oth­ers as of Novem­ber 2018.

But in June this year the Cam­paign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) won a land­mark case in the Court of Ap­peals to ban the sale of arms to Saudi Ara­bia for use in Yemen.

The judges said it was “ir­ra­tional and there­fore un­law­ful” for the gov­ern­ment not to see the risks UK arms pose to Ye­meni civil­ians.

An­drew Smith, of CAAT, said: “The UK gov­ern­ment has armed and sup­ported re­pres­sive regimes and dic­ta­tor­ships around the world.

“These arms sales have had a dev­as­tat­ing im­pact, es­pe­cially in Yemen where Saudi-led forces have used UK-made fighter jets to drop UK-made and fire UK-made mis­siles.

“We now know that these arms sales are not just im­moral, they are also un­law­ful.

“It’s long past time for Down­ing Street to fi­nally do the right thing and put hu­man rights ahead of arms com­pany prof­its.”

The fig­ures also pro­vided in­sight into the UK’s se­cu­rity busi­ness, which sup­plies ser­vices for counter-ter­ror­ism and run­ning ma­jor events.

The sec­tor has grown by nearly £1bn since 2015 to make the UK the fourth­biggest ex­porter in the world.

The value of the se­cu­rity ex­port mar­ket is cur­rently over £5bn and is pro­jected to grow to £7bn by the year 2023.

Liz Truss, Sec­re­tary of State for In­ter­na­tional Trade, said: “The UK de­fence in­dus­try are world lead­ers in an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive global mar­ket place. “Con­tin­u­ing high per­for­mance by UK de­fence ex­porters helps to demon­strate the high re­gard in which our Armed Forces, and the equip­ment they use, are held by our al­lies and part­ner na­tions overseas.”

Boris John­son, li­censed £1.2bn of weapons for bomb­ing Yemen when he was For­eign Sec­re­tary

Liz Truss, the new Sec­re­tary of State for In­ter­na­tional Trade, is re­spon­si­ble for the ex­ports

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