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Fact sheet: Export controls for armaments and dual-use goods - issues and responsibilities

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  1. International and European cooperation vs. state sovereignty
  2. The role of CFSP in the field of conventional weapons and WMD
  3. Dual-use items: single market rules, but national control
  4. International treaties covering different areas of armament exports

Arms trade is an important economic factor. This market accounts for an estimated total of 900 billion dollars each year, throughout the world. Armaments exports display a conflict between two kinds of interest: security interests and commercial interests. They tend to have a political dimension that does not reveal itself in the short run. For example, if the European Union decides to lift its arms embargo on China, this would mean immediate revenues for companies like the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company or the EADS. However, the effect might be that China would feel encouraged to repeat violent actions like that in response to which the embargo was introduced, which is the suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. Also, European technology might be used against EU member states or one of their strategic partners in the event of military conflict.

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