Wonder why nobody really cared about the Libyan regime until two weeks ago, when it suddenly became cool to hate on Muammar, especially by his former head of state "best friends"? Simple: weapon sales. While Libya was happily exporting oil, and using the proceeds to reinvest the money in the form of €62 billion or so of deposits in European (and apparently US) banks, bypassing Money-Laundering Provisions freely, it also used a fair portion of the proceeds to procure weapons. The amount, at just under €1 billion between 2005 and 2009 is not nominal, and certainly led to some very appreciated top and bottom line beats for a variety of arms makers. And while the data was not previously available, the Guardian now makes it public for the entire world to realize that while Italy relied on Libya for a great portion of its oil imports, it was also the biggest maker of Libyan weapons (which makes sense: the country needed to protect its investment) in 2009 and 2007, and was just behind France in 2008.
The total weapons exports by year is presented here:
And the full breakdown by year and country:
And some of the key highlights from Guardian:
- The EU granted export licenses for €834.5m worth of arms exports in the first five years after the arms embargo was lifted in October 2004
- 2009 is the highest amount ever: €343.7m
- Italy is the top exporter, with €276.7m over the five years
- The UK got off to a big start in 2005, with €58.9m of the €72.2m total. UK licenses over the five years are worth €119.35m
- Malta saw some €79.7m of guns go through the Island en route to Libya in 2009 - apparently sold via an Italian company
We wonder when comparable data for the US will be made public?
Update: an amusing incident regarding Malta's weapon exports: it appears that fat fingers are not only involved when crashing the S&P.
From Malta Today: 'Typing error' by Maltese agent causes Malta embarrassment over arms exports to Libya
A ‘typing error’ in documentation submitted to the Maltese government by a Maltese handling agent of Italian arms manufacturing firm that exported weapons to Italy, has led to Malta being erroneously being put into the spotlight by a European report that alleged €80 million, rather than €8 million worth of weapons transited through Malta from Italy to Libya in 2009.
Information Director Martin Bugelli claimed that contrary to what many may have assumed, Malta had only issued a transit export licence to weapons firm ‘Beretta’, and the arms were never physically in Malta.
In a letter to the The Times yesterday, Italian ambassador Luigi Marras questioned government’s explanation and said that Italy had only exported €8 million worth of small arms to Libya in November 2009.
Bugelli claimed that company’s local agent, WJ Parnis England, has formally admitted it had made a “typing error on the documentation submitted to the Maltese government.”
In an official letter, which the government received from the agents earlier today and which it made public, the company admitted that an “extra 0” had been inadvertently typed in.
MaltaToday is informed that shortly after knowing of the Italian ambassadors official reply, an investigation was launched and the local agents found the mistake.
A government spokesman argued that the whole issue was a “storm in a teacup.”