The financial value of the global arms trade
The only means of making assessments of the financial value of the arms trade is to rely on official data provided by governments and industry bodies. There are significant limitations on using official national data in this way. There is no internationally agreed definition of what constitutes 'arms' and governments use different lists when collecting and reporting data on the financial value of their 'arms exports', 'arms export licences' or 'arms export agreements'. Moreover, there is no standardized methodology for how to collect and report such data on 'arms exports'; some states report on export licences issued or used, and other states use data collected from customs agencies.
Values of states' arms exports
The files below present official data on the financial value of states' arms exports. The data is taken from reports by, direct quotes from or direct communication with governments or official industry bodies.
In all cases, the stated data coverage reflects the language used by the original source. National practices in this area vary, but 'arms exports' generally refers to the financial value of arms actually delivered; 'arms export licences' generally refers to the financial value of licences for arms exports issued by the national export licensing authority; and 'arms export agreements' refers to the financial value of agreements signed for arms exports.
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The first file presents all available national data on arms exports between 1994 and 2011. The data are presented in the relevant national currency in current values. Sources refer to the five previous figures listed, beginning with the most recent.
- The financial value of national arms exports, 1994-2012 (xls - 99kb)
The next two files present data on the financial value of countries' arms exports from 1998 to 2011 converted into US$. In the first file figures are in US$ m. at current prices. Conversion to US$ is made using the market exchange rates (MERs) of the reporting year. In the second file figures are in US$ m. at constant (2011) prices. Conversion to constant (2011) US dollars is made using the market exchange rates of the reporting year and the US consumer price index (CPI).
The countries included in the table are those that provide official data on the financial value of 'arms exports', 'licences for arms exports' or 'arms export agreements' for at least 6 of the 10 years and for which the average of the values given exceeds $10 million. Sources refer to the five previous figures listed, beginning with the most recent.
- The financial value of national arms exports, 2003-2012, in current US$ (xls - 59kb)
- The financial value of national arms exports, 2003-2012, in constant (2012 US$ (xls - 59kb)
Value of the global arms trade
According to the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, the countries that produce official data on the financial value of their arms exports account for over 90 per cent of the total volume of deliveries of major conventional weapons. By adding together these data it should therefore be possible to arrive at a rough estimate of the financial value of the global arms trade. However, there are significant limitations in using this data in this way. First, the data sets are based on different definitions and methodologies and may not be directly comparable. Second, several states-including the United Kingdom-do not release data on 'arms exports', while others-including China-do not release any data on 'arms exports', 'arms export licenses' or 'arms export agreements'. By adding together the data that states have made available on the financial value of their 'arms exports' it is possible to say that that the total value of the global arms trade in 2011 was at least $43 billion. However, the true figure is likely to be higher.