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    Saudi Arabia, top Walloon weapons client last year

    © Belga
    © Belga

    In 2017, Saudi Arabia was the top client for weapons manufactured in Walloon, before the USA and France, according to figures contained in a Walloon Parliament report published in detail Thursday by L’Echo and Le Soir. Walloon issued 1,313 weapons export and transfer licenses to 69 countries in 2017, for a total of 620 million euros, progressing by 37% when compared to the previous year.

    Saudi Arabia was the top client for Walloon weapons, for a cost as high as 153 million last year, which is a quarter of all exports. These shipments to the Sunnite kingdom mainly concerned firearms, artillery, munitions, or armored combat vehicles. The other two major clients last year were the USA (106 million euros) and France (66 million).

    License issuance for weapons exports is the Walloon Minister-President’s exclusive competency. In 2017, Paul Magnette, then Willy Borsus, refused a total of 30 licenses, notably for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines.

    Weapons manufacturing in Walloon has created a total of 12 to 15,000 jobs. The largest majority of export licenses issued by Belgium come from the south of the country.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times