BERLIN (Reuters) - German arms export approvals dropped nearly 13 percent to 6.85 billion euros in 2016 and continued to fall in the first four months of 2017, Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing government documents.
Arms sales remain sensitive in Germany given its World War Two history, and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has promised more restrictive export licensing, especially of light arms.
The German government approved arms sales valued at 2.42 billion during the first four months of the year, compared to 3.3 billion in the same period of 2016, the newspaper said. It cited the government's 2016 arms export report and an interim report for 2017, which the cabinet is due to approve Wednesday.
The newspaper said 53.6 percent of German exports in 2016 went to countries that are not in the European Union, NATO or otherwise allied with Germany, bolstered significantly by the sale of a frigate to Algeria that had been approved in 2012.
Approvals for sales in the first months of 2017 also included an additional frigate for Algeria.
"Overall, the arms export policy remains restrictive and transparent," the report said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Kevin Liffey)