Among the main factors contributing to the availability of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and their ammunition is the increase in the number of legitimate producers. This increase is largely a result of transfers of production equipment. Once installed, this equipment can be used for the production of SALW for decades. Regrettably, a further result is the increased the availability of SALW to undesirable or unauthorised end-users. To prevent contributing to such proliferation, a growing number of states is adopting restrictive export practices on transfers of production equipment for SALW and their ammunition.
This brief compares the export practices in France, Germany, and Belgium for equipment for the production of SALW ammunition for military and law enforcement markets. Companies in these countries are the main global providers of such equipment. The companies are the New Lachaussée and EDB Engineering in Belgium, Manurhin Equipment in France, and Firtz Werner in Germany. It seems that Belgian export practices are less restrictive than those in France and Germany, both of which have adopted a policy of caution. This policy of caution aims to ensure that ammunition produced by machines authorised for export is not diverted. Belgium export practices imply therefore the undermining of efforts in Germany and France to limit the further spread of sources of SALW ammunition production. Belgian export practices therefore also seem to run counter to an emerging policy of caution on the level of the European Union.