Wednesday 22 March 2023

Dutch companies have 94 permits to supply ‘dual use’ products to Saudi Arabia

Loading container ships in Rotterdam. Photo:

Dutch firms are currently running 94 government-approved contracts to supply products which could be used for military purposes to Saudi Arabia, broadcaster NOS said on Tuesday.

The contracts for ‘dual use’ products and services have a total value of €136m and all have been approved by the foreign affairs ministry, NOS said. A number of contracts have been refused an export licence, including four destined for Saudi Arabia this year.

‘Dual use’ means the products could be used for both military and civilian ends. These could include certain fire retardants used in the construction industry which can also be used to manufacture poison gas. Other types of dual-use goods include testing and production equipment, and certain materials, software and technology.

Western countries are under increasing pressure to suspend arms exports to Saudi Arabia since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and due to the mounting famine in Jemen.

There is no EU ban on weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and Eurostat figures show that France, Britain, Germany and Italy all have major contracts to supply conventional weapons.

‘The Netherlands does not do what countries such as France and Britain do,’ a foreign affairs ministry spokesman told the broadcaster. The Dutch government line is to stop the export of goods which could be use to contravene human rights, he said.

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