BERLIN (Reuters) - German arms exports almost doubled last year to their highest level since the beginning of this century, a German newspaper said on Sunday, citing a report from the Economy Ministry that is due to be presented to the cabinet on Wednesday.

Newspaper Welt am Sonntag said the value of individual approvals granted for exporting arms was 7.86 billion euros ($8.75 billion) last year compared with 3.97 billion euros worth of arms exports in 2014.

It said the Economy Ministry had pointed to special factors that boosted arms exports such as the approval of four tanker aircraft for Britain worth 1.1 billion euros.

It also pointed to the approval of battle tanks and tank howitzers along with munitions and accompanying vehicles worth 1.6 billion euros for Qatar - a controversial deal that the report said was approved in 2013 by the previous government.

The Economy Ministry declined to comment on the report.

In February German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said preliminary figures showed that Germany had given approval for around 7.5 billion euros worth of arms shipments in 2015.

The Federal Office for Economics and Export Control (Bafa), a subsidiary of the economy ministry, is responsible for licensing arms export deals and Gabriel had promised to take a much more cautious approach to licensing arms exports, especially with regard to the Middle East.

Germany is one of the world's main arms exporters to EU and NATO countries and has been cutting its sales of light weapons outside those states.

Last year the government rejected 100 applications for arms export approvals – the same number as in the previous year, Welt am Sonntag reported. It said Berlin had given 12,687 applications the green light in 2015 – 597 more than in the previous year.

($1 = 0.8978 euros)

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)