The Spanish export of arms in 2014: between illegality and joint arms programs

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During 2014, Spain made defence materials exports worth €3.203 million, whilst in total €3.666 million worth of exports were authorized. The value of the actual exports has decreased by 18% in comparison to that reached in 2013, from €3.907 million. Nonetheless, the tendency during the last 10 years has been a continued increase, as revealed in the following graph.

Spanish exports of defence material 2005-2014

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), in 2014 Spain occupied the sixth position in the world ranking of exporting countries, behind the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. The exports in 2014 have represented 4% of the global arms exports and 1.3% of the total Spanish trade balance.

The transfer of Spanish arms is made, fundamentally, in two geographic areas: The NATO countries and or the EU, on one hand, and the Middle East, on the other. 81% of total exports are concentrated in these two areas.

The principle destination of defence material has been the NATO countries: €2.1 million (which makes up 65.6% of total exports; over 86% of those go to countries in the European Union that form part of NATO). Countries of the European Union make up 57% of the total exports, valuing 1.831 million euros.

The main clients have been the United Kingdom (862,79 million), France (520,67 million), Germany (272,45 million), Italy (96,13 million) and Greece (47,44 million); corresponding above all to bits and pieces of the joint arms manufacturing projects like the A400M plane, the EF-2000 or the various missiles. The total arms exported in the market from these joint programs reached the figure of €1.864 million, which makes up 58.2% of the total exports.

Regarding the second geographic area of importance, the Middle East is acquiring great importance, especially in the last two years (see the table below). In 2014, €511 million worth of arms have been destined for countries in the Middle East, especially the countries in the Persian Gulf (16% of the total). The most relevant exports have had the destination of Saudi Arabia (293 million) a supply plane and munitions, followed by Egypt (108 million) with 4 transport planes and components, Oman (65 million) a transport plane and components and Bahrain (40 million) of anti-air munition.

Table 1. Spanish exports of defence material to Middle Eastern countries (in millions of current euros)

Countries

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2010-2014

Saudi Arabia

5.824,93

14.006,43

21.263,43

406.437,36

292.861,79

740.393,94

United Arab Emirates

 

66,15

2.379,60

717.047,17

 

719.492,92

Egypt

2.539,84

69.834,52

50.323,59

126.653,09

107.951,05

357.302,09

Oman

3.195,20

3.310,39

670,07

98.036,16

64.893,48

170.105,3

Bahrain

40,69

6.350,52

21.145,35

24.129,99

39.931,56

91.598,11

Israel

1.429,04

472,55

637,84

52,13

3.428,09

6.019,65

Jordan

1.615,34

2.584,94

384,52

608,97

190,21

5.383,98

Kuwait

 

 

1.703,01

 

817,80

2.520,81

Qatar

1.030,48

382,79

 

 

666,77

2.080,04

Total

15.675,52

97.008,29

98.507,41

1.372.964,86

510.740,75

 

 

The exports to the Middle East reveal the loose interpretation that the Spanish authorities are making of legislation in terms of the arms business. It could even be considered contradictory to the Spanish legislation just as much as the European over the control of the arms business due to the situation of instability in the region. Especially, through the regional influence of countries like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates as they give support to a part of the conflict in Syria (insurgent groups), and in other countries like Libya and Egypt.

Spain has become a global power in arms exports, largely, as a result of the Spanish Government's policy of encouraging arms exportation. A policy that is put in practice by different entities linked with the Ministry of Defence: the Secretary of State for Defence, the Office of Foreign Support, the Ambassadors of Defence in the embassies and the public businesses ISDEFE and DEFEX.

This policy is based on secrecy, since it has been declared that the minutes of the body that grants authorizations to export (the JIMDDU) are secret. And their most recent instruments are the "government to government contracts", whereby the Spanish Government guarantees the delivery of armaments.

During 2014, an alleged plot of corruption linked to the arms business inside the public enterprise DEFEX, was being judicially investigated. The plot had appropriated millions of euros in illegal commissions, which were distributed between the buyer countries and the top management of the DEFEX business. The contracts of arms exports held with African countries, between Angola or Cameroon, or the Near East, like Saudi Arabia are suspected.

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