Small Arms Transfers: Exporting States (Research Note 11)

Eric G. Berman
Research Note

The annual authorized trade in small arms is estimated to exceed USD 7 billion a year. The Research Note Small Arms Transfers: Exporting States offers an assessment of the countries whose exports of small arms have the greatest value. 

States report on their arms transfers very unevenly, with some being very transparent, and others highly secretive. In assessing the value of exports the Survey has supplemented countries’ national arms export reports and submissions to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) with customs data, reports from the news media as well as research and advocacy organizations, and direct consultations with governments and industry officials. 

At least 16 countries have exported more than USD 100 million worth of small arms in a single calendar year since 2001.  The country with the largest recorded exports is the United States, followed by Italy and Germany.  Austria, Belgium, and Brazil all report exports worth more than  USD 100 million, and the Small Arms Survey believes China and the Russian Federation do likewise, although their own reporting is very limited.  Canada, Israel, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom have each exported more than USD 100 million in small arms in a year, but not routinely. In addition, at least 33 other countries have exported USD 10 million or more in small arms in a single year since 2001 (data from before 2011).

Exports do not only reflect production: they often involve trans-shipments or disposal of surplus weapons.

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Keywords: Exports