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Report slams lack of transparency in Finland's arms exports

A security think tank says different bodies are responsible for authorising exports of different kinds of products.

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Last year Finnish manufacturers exported 113.2 million euros worth of military products and 84 million euros of civilian goods. Image: AOP

A lack of transparency in Finnish arms exports data prevents proper evaluation of the country’s arms exports policies, security think tank SaferGlobe has said in an annual report on Finland’s arms trade.

The organisation said that visibility into arms exports is undermined by the fact that very often, several bodies are responsible for processing arms export licenses. As a result, each agency provides different information about the products it is responsible for processing, and does so in different ways.

In Finland, the Defence Ministry is responsible for approving exports of arms for military use, while the National Police Board grants permission for the export of civilian weapons and the Foreign Ministry oversees exports of dual-use products.

Meanwhile, clearing exports of torture equipment would fall to the Interior Ministry’s police unit. However SaferGlobe’s annual report noted that no export licenses have been sought or granted for such products.

SaferGlobe said that centralised processing of arms exports would provide a more holistic view of Finnish arms exports. The organisation’s latest annual report includes data from 2019. It indicates that last year Finnish manufacturers exported 113.2 million euros worth of military products and 84 million euros of civilian goods. The report noted no change in the overall value of exports compared to the previous year.

Few changes in 10 years

SaferGlobe has been tracking Finnish arms exports and its transparency for about a decade. The think tank said there has been little change between 2010 and 2019 and it noted that some developments have increased openness, while others have reduced it.

In addition to the number of bodies responsible for granting export licenses and varied reporting practices, SaferGlobe said that another challenge was that there is no information available about companies that export or purchase weapons for civilian use.

"The less and more dispersed the information on arms exports, the more difficult it is for politicians, researchers and officials themselves to evaluate Finnish arms exports policy overall," SaferGlobe researcher Kari Paasonen said in a statement.

The organisation pointed out that many other EU countries include both military and dual-use arms exports in the same report.

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