(CNN)The German government has announced that its arms exports fell by close to 23% in 2018 compared to the previous year.
In figures provided to CNN by the German Economy Ministry, total arms exports fell by 22.75% in 2018 from 6.24 billion euros ($7.10 billion) in the previous year to 4.82 billion euros ($5.49 billion). The downward trend in the country's arms exports has been witnessed every year since 2015, when Germany exported a record-breaking 7.86 billion euros.
A ministry spokesman cited Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision in October 2018 to halt all arms sales to Saudi Arabia after the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul as a reason for the sharp decline.
"The Chancellor clarified to the federal government shortly after the discovery of the Khashoggi case that there was no longer grounding to sell arms to Saudi Arabia," he said in a statement provided to CNN.
The ministry confirmed that Germany had not changed its position regarding exports to Saudi Arabia in the intervening months, and noted that no sales had been made to the Middle Eastern nation in the fourth quarter of last year.
"There are currently no permits for arms exports to Saudi Arabia," the spokesman confirmed.
Speaking to members of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in October, Merkel said: "I agree with all those who say, that the already limited arms exports (to Saudi Arabia) cannot take place in the current circumstances.
"There is an urgent need to clarify what happened -- we are far from this having been cleared up and those responsible held to account," she said regarding the Khashoggi case.
The moratorium on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, however, is only believed to be valid until March this year, according to German news site Deutsche Welle, when the German government will be obliged to decide whether or not to maintain the ban or relax it.
The ministry spokesman nevertheless confirmed to CNN that Germany has "one of the most restrictive and rigorous arms exports regimes in the world." He also confirmed that Berlin is "very transparent" in regards to its arms export policy.