With contracts totalling €196 million in 2018, Wallonia is the biggest European arms supplier to Saudi Arabia, the Flemish pacifist institution, Vlaams Vredeinstituut, reported on Monday.
Three-quarters of the firearms produced in Europe and delivered to the regime in Riyadh come directly from Wallonia, the institution said, based on an analysis of arms-export declarations by various EU member countries.
“There is a growing practice in Europe of being more critical and careful regarding the export of arms to Saudi Arabia, but the Walloon Region seems to be the exception in this regard,” said Diederik Cops, a researcher at the Vlaams Vredeinstituut. “The Walloon defence industry, and more specifically FN Herstal, has been closely linked to Saudi Arabia since the 1980s. This has led to a mutual dependency that is not easy to break.”
According to the European data on arms exports to Saudi Arabia, Belgium’s share totalled €1.16 billion in 2018, making it Europe’s eighth largest exporter, after the Big Five producers (France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom), Poland and Austria.
Belgium exports mainly firearms, ammunition and parts for armoured vehicles or aircraft, with the lion’s share produced in Wallonia.
According to the Flemish peace institute, European arms deliveries to Riyadh have been decreasing since 2016. Following the Khashoggi Affair in late 2018, Germany even decided to impose a de facto embargo on its sales to Saudi Arabia, it recalled.
The Brussels Times