Early this month, Saab Group, the largest producer of weapon in Sweden, declared its disengagement from an international trade which deals with Venezuela concerning defence. It must be remarked that the Swedish company used to be one of the main supplier of weapons to the South American nation. But Saab said that it could no longer keep on such an international trade deal.
According to Saab Group, it could not sell anti-tank and anti-aircraft devices to the Latin nation due to an arms ban imposed by the US on Venezuela. Under the embargo, defence makers could not sell to Venezuela any weapon, which is made in the US or which has one or more US-made parts. Prior to the arms policy, Bofors, which is a subsidiary of Saab Group, had supplied the South American country with weapons during the past twenty years. The recent embargo though has ended the international trade deal on arms between the Swedish firm and Venezuela.
Bofors will officially stop trading weapons with Venezuela on October 1 in compliance with the policy implemented by the US government last May. It must be noted that during the past years, Sweden had supplied anti-tank rifles, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft missiles to Venezuela that amounted to about $ 150 million. Currently, Venezuela is not involved in a new International Trade deal on weapons. However, experts said that President Hugo Chavez would soon find the need to replace its old weapons and increase its missile supply.
The embassy of the United States in Sweden praised the compliance of the Saab Group to the embargo that barred the trade of weapons to nations that did not fully cooperate with the fight against terrorism headed by the US government. Venezuelan officials were taken by surprise after the new had been released. Defence Minister Raul Isaias Baduel told to reporters that the government was not officially informed by Bofors regarding its withdrawal from the international trade deal on arms. But he said that he would be discussing the matter with Mr. Chavez in order to come up with an official response to the news.
After the news came out, a military official stated that Venezuela is also considering to negotiate an international trade deal with Switzerland regarding weapons. He added that although the door of Sweden had already closed, other countries would soon open for Venezuela. Although trade between Sweden and Venezuela ended, the latter has found another partner, which is Russia. Recently, Mr. Chavez visited the country where he signed several important trade agreements including the purchase of weapons, military planes, and helicopters. Mr. Chavez was able to close the deal since the weapons manufactured in Russia do not contain US-made parts. Prior to the international trade deal between the two countries, the US had warned Russia not to sell arms to Venezuela. The visit of Mr. Chavez to Russia was part of a series of international trips, which were aimed at seeking trade opportunities and gaining the support of other nation regarding Venezuela’s bid to join the UN Security council.
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