15 July 2010
Farnborough is shop window for deadly weapons
Repressive regimes and countries in conflict are among the military delegations who will be attending the 2010 Farnborough Air Show. Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will attend, having been invited by the UK government. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) says that the presence of such countries makes a mockery of the system of arms export controls, which supposedly restrict arms sales to responsible countries.
While negotiations for an Arms Trade Treaty take place in New York, Coalition Government ministers will be participating in trade days at Farnborough. Vince Cable, Business Secretary, with overall responsibility for the government arms sales unit, UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), will be there on Monday 19 July. Defence Minister Liam Fox, who has explicitly stated that arms sales should be a foreign policy tool, will attend on Tuesday 20 July.
CAAT has long opposed government subsidies for arms sales, which amount to hundreds of millions of pounds annually, through Research and Development funding, generous procurement policies and government backed insurance, in addition to sales support through UKTI DSO. Arms sales do not bring the many benefits for employment and exports so often claimed by supporters. Arms trade jobs account for only 0.2% of the UK workforce and comprise only 1.5 % of exports. Each arms trade job is subsidised to the tune of at least £9,000 a year.
CAAT's Research Co-ordinator, Ian Prichard, says:
The UK arms industry uses Farnborough as a shop window for its deadly trade and the UK government welcomes customers through the doors. In the same way that it supports arms sales in general, the Government provides funding, expertise and contacts to make Farnborough happen.
The weekend air show is the window dressing which attracts the crowds but on the previous five days the show is strictly business. Contacts are made and weaponry deals are negotiated in private chalets arrayed as grandstands for the air displays. Invited customers include the militaries of Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Do the crowds thrilling at the aerobatics realise that they are just witnessing the closing ceremony of a week of indiscriminate arms selling?
CAAT will be tweeting from Farnborough next week: Follow us on Twitter at: @wwwcaatorguk.
For further comment please contact CAAT's Press Co-ordinator on 020 7281 0297 or 07990 673 232 or email press(at)caat·org·uk.
- Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) works for the reduction and ultimate abolition of the international arms trade together with progressive demilitarisation within arms producing countries. Around 80% of CAAT's funding comes from individual supporters and CAAT is strictly non-violent in all its work.
- The biennual Farnborough Air Show, together with Defence Security & Equipment International (DSEi), is the leading UK arms fair. Farnborough International Ltd is a a wholly owned subsidiary of Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS). In 2010 Farnborough Air Show takes place from 19-25 July, with 19-23 July as trade days and 24-25 July open to the public. An exhibitor list is available at: Farnborough exhibitor list and a list of invited delegations at: Farnborough delegation list .
- In May 2010 CAAT published a briefing on the role of the government in arms sales Private gain, public pain the case for ending Government's arms selling. It can be downloaded from CAAT's website at: Private gain, public pain .
- While in opposition, many Liberal Democrats, including Vince Cable, the Business Secretary now responsible for UKTI, opposed government support for arms exports. The Conservative Party has long believed in supporting arms exports. In September 2009, while in opposition, Minister for Defence Liam Fox told the UK Defence Conference he "wanted to increase Britain's share of the world's defence market" and to "use arms sales as a foreign policy tool". He also promised to reopen DESO, the Ministry of Defence unit which supported arms sales and several of whose functions were replaced by UKTI DSO in April 2008. In June 2010, Peter Luff, Defence Equipment Minister (Conservative), is reported to have said of arms exports: "There will be a very, very, very heavy ministerial commitment to the process. There is a sense that in the past we were rather embarrassed about exporting defence products. There is no such embarrassment in this Government."
- The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) Preparatory committee (PrepCom) meeting takes place from from 12-23 July. While recognising that the proposed treaty is a symbol of a widespread desire to stop the destruction wrought by the international arms trade, CAAT is critical of the proposed ATT as it would do little to limit the sales of arms to repressive or abusive countries, to countries in conflict or to countries with urgent development needs, but would give arms sales a veneer of international legitimacy. Both the UK government and Aerospace, Defence and Security (ADS), the industry body, support the ATT and maintain that it will have no impact on UK arms exports.
- More information about arms selling at Farnborough International 2010 can be found here.