First Saudi Arabia, then Angola and Indonesia, now Qatar. Once again, a possible German arms deal is causing criticism. In an interview, Jan Grebe, an expert on arms ies at the Bonn-based International Center for Conversion (BICC), warns against fundamental changes in foreign and security policy. The German government is pursuing a "high-risk strategy".
CBA: Mr. Grebe, in recent months numerous controversial arms deals have come to light. Is this due to a growing transparency or is the number of arms deals increasing?
Jan Grebe: Transparency in the arms trade has certainly not grown. Such transactions take place under strict secrecy. Instead, there are increasing calls from industry for more arms exports – on the grounds that domestic demand has fallen in the wake of Bundeswehr reform. In this way, the arms lobby is putting the federal government under a lot of prere.
CBA: What is the importance of the arms industry to the economy?
Grebe: It is difficult to make reliable statements about actual jobs and turnover. It is suspected that about 80.000 people are employed in the arms industry. Total arms exports account for about 0.5 percent of total foreign trade, war arms exports even only about 0.2 percent. Proponents, on the other hand, always point to the importance of a well-positioned arms industry in terms of security policy and see jobs in danger. Irrespective of the prere from the arms lobby, there are also signs of a fundamental change in foreign and security policy.