Changemaker dislikes India’s zeal at the Norwegian arms industry

India is a major importer of weapons and military materials and an attractive country for the Norwegian defense industry. 

Giants like the Kongsberg Group and Nammo send delegations to India together with Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H), who is officially visiting the country the next few days. They should think well, says CEO Embla Regine Mathisen in Changemaker.

– India is formally a democracy, but there are problems related to censorship of the press and the security of Muslims and other minorities. In addition, India is constantly in bloody conflict with Pakistan on the Kashmir area in the north, and the UN has accused them of human rights violations. It is then definitely worthy to sell war material to them, she says to NTB.

During Solberg’s official visit to the country, a separate business seminar is held on defense and space technology.

Large Importer

India was the world’s largest importer of larger, conventional weapons in the period 2013-2017, according to the Swedish peace research institute SIPRI . In total, the country accounted for 12 per cent of global arms imports during this period. And the Indians buy from all corners of the world. Both Russia, Israel and the US are important trading partners. The Norwegian defense industry is also in place.

– India is a country that is in significant economic growth and is investing in defense. That makes India an attractive market, says CEO Torbjørn Svensgård in the Defense and Security Industry Association (FSI) to NTB.

In 2017, military equipment for NOK 2.5 billion was exported from Norway to India, according to the Norwegian parliament’s report Export of Defense Materials . This is an increase of 70 per cent from the previous year. But Svensgård points out that trade in military material is project-based and thus the sums can vary from year to year.

About the criticism from Changemaker, Svendsgård says:

– What Changemaker thinks of this, I have no comment on. We relate to the Norwegian authorities, he says and points out that the industry is subject to strict export controls.

Monitoring systems and components

The Norwegian defense industry must apply for a license from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sell weapons and ammunition (A-material), but also other technology and materials that can be used for military purposes, out of the country.

Surveillance systems, both airborne and maritime, as well as components and subsystems are among the goods that the Norwegian defense industry supplies to India, says Svendsgård.

In 2012, the red-green government opened an export of A-material to India, but according to the report to the Storting, until 2017, such goods have not been sold to the country. Figures for 2018 are not yet clear, NTB gets informed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Svendsgård believes the reason is that the purchase and sale of such goods takes a long time.

– Normally, it is a sales time of 5–6 years. There are work on market opportunities in India that are of considerable scope, he says.

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