Trade Update 2017: Out of the Shadows

Paul Holtom and Irene Pavesi
Trade Update

The Small Arms Survey’s Trade Update 2017: Out of the Shadows provides an overview of the international trade in small arms and light weapons in 2014, identifies the world’s top and major exporters of small arms and light weapons, and assesses changes in trade patterns from 2013 to 2014. The Update also presents the 2017 edition of the Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer, which scores key exporters from the most to the least transparent.

The main findings include the following:

  • In 2014, the top exporters of small arms (those with annual exports of at least USD 100 million), in descending order, were: the United States, Italy, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Austria, Turkey, the Russian Federation, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Croatia, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, and Japan. Brazil exported more than USD 500 million worth of small arms for the first time during 2001–14.
  • In 2014, the top importers of small arms (those with annual imports of at least USD 100 million), in descending order, were: the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Australia, Iraq, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The United States remains the world’s largest importer, but the value of its imports declined for the first time since 2001, from USD 2.5 billion in 2013 to USD 2.2 billion in 2014.
  • The international small arms trade was worth at least USD 6 billion in 2014. Ammunition accounted for 38 per cent of global transfers. The value of ‘military firearm’ shipments increased by 49 per cent between 2013 and 2014, from USD 475 million to USD 708 million. In contrast, the value of the trade in pistols and revolvers declined by 16 per cent, from USD 1 billion to USD 845 million.
  • The 2017 edition of the Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer identifies Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Serbia as the most transparent top and major small arms exporters. Iran, Israel, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are the least transparent major exporters.
  • The average score in the 2017 Barometer is 11.33 out of 25 points. The areas that have seen the most improvement over the past year are: comprehensiveness (+17 per cent), access and consistency (+12 per cent), licences denied (+11 per cent), and clarity (+4 per cent).
  • In their first ATT annual reports, Austria, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Liberia—none of which had reported small arms transfers to the UN Register—provided information on small arms transfers, thus increasing overall transparency on international small arms transfers.
  • Although Iran, North Korea, and the UAE rarely, if ever, recorded small arms exports worth USD 10 million or more in Comtrade, Survey research indicates that they are major small arms exporters. It is more difficult to determine the status of Saudi Arabia, which appears to be a significant re-exporter of small arms.

Available in: ENGLISH

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Keywords: Trade Transfers Exports Imports Transparency Transparency Barometer