UK JET FIGHTER SALES TAKE FLIGHT
THE GOVERNMENT IS MAKING BILLIONS FROM SELLING ARMS - BUT CAMPAIGNERS WARN OF ‘DEVASTATING IMPACT’
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