The production of weapons and ammunition in Belgium fell by 30 percent in 2022, the year of the war in Ukraine. This is partly because less was exported to Saudi Arabia. The sector does see improvement, writes De Standaard on Friday.
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In the year that the EU countries announced that they would again invest heavily in their army, the turnover of the Belgian defense industry fell. According to figures from sector organization Agoria and the National Bank, the turnover of the security and defense sector fell from 2.14 to 2.04 billion euros. In arms and ammunition, the decline was even more spectacular. In 2022, Belgium produced arms and ammunition worth only 426 million euros, a decrease of 30 percent compared to 2021 and even a halving compared to 2019.
According to Agoria’s defense specialist, Georges Heeren, this decrease is mainly due to the expiry of major contracts with a major player whom he cannot name. The largest producers of arms and ammunition are mainly located in Wallonia: FN Herstal, Mecar and John Cockerill Defense. They have lost a major customer in recent years: Saudi Arabia. Between 2017 and 2019, that country accounted for more than 40 percent of Belgian arms and ammunition exports, but that has fallen completely.
Indirect impact weapons to Ukraine
The war in Ukraine did not yet have much impact on exports and production in 2022. “Ukraine mainly received ammunition and weapons that came from the stocks of the armies of the NATO countries. Moreover, the standards of the Ukrainian weapons are still aligned with Russian standards.”
Despite the decline in 2022, a revival of the Belgian defense industry is expected. “The armies that have supplied arms and ammunition will now have to replenish their supplies and turn to the defense companies. In addition, the European countries are increasing their defense budget and want to strengthen their army again.”