According to the German news magazine, Der Spiegel, the German Ministry of Economics seeks to facilitate the exports of German arms companies. It was reported that two ministerial draft bills have been tabled, to reform foreign trade legislation, "purging" the regulations referring to military products and "annulling Germany-specific regulations that could place Germany's exporters at a disadvantage to its European rivals." The tabled drafts would liberalize German legislation to meet the less restrictive EU standards, according to reports. The Ministry of Economics has invited the foreign trade associations to coordinate this planning on Wednesday. A ministry spokesperson contradicted the news report, saying that the German government will not alter "tested principles" of foreign trade legislation, "according to which exports of military products will in each individual case be carefully considered in accordance, above all, with foreign and security policy, as well as in terms of human rights political issues." In fact, the relevant authorities usually issue licenses oriented on foreign ministry recommendations.
Ranking Third in the World
Over the past few years, Berlin's arms export policy's "tested principles" have pushed Germany ever higher up the scale of the world's arms traders. In 2000 - at the beginning of the incumbency of the SPD - Green coalition government - Germany was still in fifth place. But the Schroeder and the Merkel cabinets have boosted global German arms exports so successfully that Germany has held third place for years. In the period from 2007 - 2011, nine percent of all exports in conventional weaponry had its origins in Germany (30 percent in the USA, and 24 percent in Russia). The biggest customer was Greece - the country that went broke in the Euro crisis. Up until the crisis, Greece had purchased about 13 percent of all German military exports. In the years from 1998 - 2005, exports into crisis regions and deliveries to dictatorships were regularly given permits by the current government as well as by the earlier SPD-Green government.
Dictatorships among the Top 10
During their foreign visits, the German Chancellor and her ministers have repeatedly solicited despots and rulers of countries in crisis regions to buy German military equipment. This has been confirmed by a listing compiled by the German government covering the period from November 2009 to April 2012, according to which, on her visits to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, the German Chancellor had traveled with representatives of TyssenKrupp Marine Systems, MTU Aero Engines and EADS in her entourage. Feudal clan dictators rule those four countries. The region bordering on the Persian Gulf is one of the most volatile regions of tension in the world, because of the threat of war against Iran. ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and the Lürssen Dockyards were provided access to circles of the Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati feudal cliques during the German Foreign Minister's visits. Most recently in the UAE, Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière solicited the sale of 60 Eurofighters, whose producing consortium has its headquarters in Germany. Just recently, the planned export of the Leopard 2A7+ battle tank to Saudi Arabia provoked major protests. Berlin now plans to carry out this transaction over a licensed producer in Spain, to avoid having the still sharply criticized export listed in German statistics. This cannot hide the fact that the Arab Gulf dictatorships have been long-time customers of German military equipment. In 2010 also - the German Arms Export Report for 2011 is not yet available - two of these Gulf dictatorships have again ranked among the top 10 German military products customers. The UAE, with licensed exports of more than 262 million Euros, placed fifth - even ahead of NATO allies France, Italy and the Netherlands - while Saudi Arabia placed tenth, with its licensed exports of more than 152 million Euros.
Sealing Borders in North Africa
As can be seen in the government's report, the German government is also approaching countries in North Africa's crisis regions with its weaponry offers. For example, mid-October 2011, representatives of Cassidian, the weaponry subsidiary of EADS, accompanied German Minister of Economics Philipp Rösler to Libya - before the end of that country's civil war. Cassidian is fortifying Saudi Arabia's national borders - accompanied by the German Federal Police's comprehensive training measures. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Subsequent to talks between the German Chancellor and the President of Algeria, Cassidian was also contracted to fortify Algeria's national borders. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) This fortification contract was seamlessly followed up with a similar contract in neighboring Libya, which, because of its huge deposits of oil, is considered extremely lucrative. Berlin sees the fortification of North African borders as extremely important, since it could produce a radical reduction in the undesired migration to the EU. Aid for the fortification of the Libyan borders had already been promised the Moammar al Gadhafi regime.
According to last weekend's press reports, equipping the Algerian Navy is one of Germany's most recent weapons deals. TyssenKrupp Marine Systems will supply two Meko frigates to Algeria, with deck helicopters included. The contract, which was signed already back in March, is valued at more than 400 million Euros, and includes the construction of a dockyard in that North African country, which is to assemble two more frigates. This business deal, as well, had been politically prepared and accompanied by the Berlin government. During a visit to Algiers, a high-ranking German naval delegation introduced an accompanying training program, which inspired the Algerian government to decide in favor of buying the German model - very similar to the German Federal Police training program for Saudi Arabia, which accompanies that Cassidian contract. Accordingly, Algerian sailors will be initiated by the German Navy in the handling of German frigates - on the high seas and in Germany as well. This costs Algeria 12 million Euros. In 2010, Berlin also authorized mediation for selling Algeria two patrol boats. Algeria is the strongest military power in Northwest Africa. The sale of warships, as well as the other deals for weaponry with Algeria, is considered a good means for reinforcing the Algerian armed forces' bonds to Germany.