UK arms dealers pocket $8bn profit from Saudi sales

UK arms dealers pocket $8bn profit from Saudi sales
3 min read
20 September, 2017
UK arms dealers have netted $8bn in revenue from sales to Saudi Arabia since its Yemen intervention, which equates to just a $40m tax income, a War Child report claims.
The UK Government faces increasing pressure to halt arms sales to its top customer [Getty]
UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia has brought profits of more than $8bn to weapons manufacturers, but only $40m in corporation tax to the government, a War Child report has found.

New estimates released by the London-based children's charity reveal that since the Saudi-led coalition began its intervention in Yemen in 2015, British weapons companies including BAE systems and Raytheon have earned revenues of more than $8bn from dealings with Saudi Arabia, generating profits estimated at almost $775m.

The UK government, however, has received a "pitiful" tax income of $40m, the report said, which equates to less than 50 pence per head of the UK population towards public services.

The figures "embarassingly discredit" the government's justification that its weapons industry brings economic benefits, War Child UK's CEO Rob Williams said.

"I find it morally repugnant that the UK government is allowing companies to make killer profits from the deaths of innocent children," he added.

Humanitarian aid to Yemen eclipses the tax income generated from the weapons sold that are fuelling the crisis, the report also found, with weapons sales to Saudi Arabia resulting in approximately $13m in corporation tax in 2016, yet during 2017, the UK will spend $188m in humanitarian aid to Yemen.

The government's arguments are "financially inconsistent", the report said, adding the numbers undermine its policy of getting "value for money" from the provision of aid.

The British government is shamefully complicit in [children's] suffering and justifies it with promises of economic prosperity, which this report embarassingly discredits.

"Thousands of children have died and millions more are at risk. The British government is shamefully complicit in their suffering and justifies it with promises of economic prosperity, which this report embarassingly discredits," Williams said.

War Child's report comes as Prime Minister Theresa May and the Government face increasing pressure to halt arms sales to Britain's top customer.

Read more: Saudi Arabia and UK sign military cooperation deal

In July, the UK High Court ruled that the UK had not contravened international humanitarian law by sanctioning the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia - a ruling that the claimants, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, have pledged to appeal.

The UK frequently justifies its close relationship with Saudi Arabia by highlighting how it delivers essential counter terrorism intelligence.

The war in Yemen has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, and wounded 44,500 since the Saudi-led coalition intervened against the Houthi rebels it alleges are supported by regional arch-rival Iran.

It has brought the country to the brink of famine, with 6.8 million people experiencing emergency-level food insecurity, and 5,000 new cases of cholera every day.

UN agencies and human rights organisations have documented a pattern of innocent civilians being targeted, including 216 verified attacks on education facilities.