In line with EU and US sanctions on Russia, the Walloon government has suspended seven licences for the export of “dual-use” goods and equipment, namely any item that could be used in both a civilian and military setting.
Minister-President of Wallonia Elio Di Rupo states that his government has taken “preventative” action to suspend all licences for dual-use goods to Russia. The Minister-President, however, did not state exactly what exports would be banned.
Items typically included a ban of dual-use goods include computer components, certain chemicals, telecommunications systems, lasers, sensors, and software. The ban is intended to prevent Belgian goods being used in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Two of the licences issued for the export of goods to Russia equate to over 95% of the total sanctioned trade. The licences for the export of these goods were issued between 2020-2021, primarily affecting five export-orientated Belgian companies, who remain unnamed.
On March 22, the Flemish Government imposed a similar ban on dual-use products intended for Russia and its allies. This revoked 113 licences for exports to Russia and 12 licences for Belarus, which is currently assisting in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Flemish Government suspended a total of €200 million in exports to the former Soviet nations.
Despite the tough trade sanctions, the cabinet of the Flemish Minister of Jan Jambon admits that many of the goods targeted by the export ban may have already left the country before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Belgium is known for its weapons manufacturing industry. The country is home to major gun manufacturer the Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN Herstal).
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In 2020, the Belgian arms export industry was worth $53 million. Belgian arms exports have raised eyebrows in the past. 75% of European firearms exports to oil-state Saudi Arabia were found to have been produced in Belgium.
The Belgian government assures that it has not sold any weapons to Russia since 2014 when the EU introduced an arms embargo on Russia following its invasion of Crimea.