New Study Examines Global Trade in Ammunition

The global trade in ammunition for small arms and light weapons is worth an estimated $4.3 billion, according to a comprehensive new study released today.

Findings from the study, which is co-authored by Matt Schroeder of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), appears as a chapter in Small Arms Survey 2010: Gangs, Groups, and Guns.

The study is part of a multi-year assessment of authorized international transfers of small arms and light weapons, their parts, accessories and ammunition. Previous findings on the international trade in firearms are available in last year’s edition of the Small Arms Survey’s annual yearbook.

Highlights from this year’s chapter include the following:

• The USD 4.3 billion ammunition finding shows that the long-standing estimate of USD 4 billion for the total trade (including weapons, parts, and accessories) considerably undervalues recent activity.

• In 2007, 26 countries had documented exports of small arms ammunition worth more than USD 10 million.

• The trade in propellant chemicals is worth at least tens, and perhaps hundreds, of millions of US dollars each year.

• Governments procure most of their light weapons ammunition from domestic producers when possible. Therefore, international transfers of light weapons ammunition are probably a small percentage of global public procurement.

• Ammunition imported by Western countries is overwhelmingly sourced from Western companies. Public procurement data from seven Western states indicates that in recent years they have received less than four per cent of their light weapons ammunition (by value) from non-Western firms.

• In 2007 the top exporters of all small arms and light weapons (those with annual exports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, China, Switzerland, Canada, Turkey, and the Russian Federation. The top importers of all small arms and light weapons for 2007 (those with annual imports of at least USD 100 million), according to available customs data, were (in descending order) the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, and Spain.

A summary of the chapter is available here.

The full chapter is available here.

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