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Finnish weapons exports increase

Commercial licenses to export firearms and ammunition hit 151,000 in 2012. Around half those exports went to Europe, but researchers say that Finland’s figures are not completely transparent. Export licenses for weapons exported for civilian use are not public in Finland, and some countries such as Bahrain use those imports to supply their security services.

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SAKO TRG tarkkuuskivääri. Image: Yle

Defence exports are on the rise in Finland. Last year Finland granted more licenses than in any other year since 2000, according to the conflict research NGO SaferGlobe.

The total value of military equipment exported in 2012 stood at 113 million euros, but that did not tell the full story—around 130 million cartridges and 151,721 firearms were exported for civilian use.

Some countries, such as Bahrain, have imported ammunition for their security forces under civilian export licenses. The detail of civilian export licenses is not public, so the true nature and extent of civilian arms exports remain unknown.

SaferGlobe researcher Johannes Lehtinen said that there were no dramatic changes in the figures, but that some export licenses were rejected.

Missing out on Finnish arms

Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were the countries to miss out on Finnish military equipment, and Lehtinen is not surprised given the bad publicity around previous sales.

"In last year’s report we highlighted Bahrain’s unstable situation," said Lehtinen.

Export licenses for military equipment are handled by the Defence Ministry, unless the value of the order is over one million euros. In that case the license application has to be approved by the Cabinet.

SaferGlobe also analyses arms sales in five-year cycles to even out distortions caused by large purchases in any one year. In the period 2008-2012 export licenses for military equipment were 18.5 percent fewer than in the preceding five-year period. Civilian arms exports were down 11 percent over the corresponding time periods.

An English summary of SaferGlobe's report can be read here.

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