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Top Arms Exporting Countries

Name the fifteen countries that export the most weapons.
For the ten-year period, 2009-2018
According to SIPRI
Quiz by cuotak
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Last updated: July 30, 2019
First submittedAugust 15, 2013
Times taken22,553
Rating4.76
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$ Billion
Country
93.1
United States
66.3
Russia
17.5
Germany
16.9
France
15.1
China
$ Billion
Country
12.0
United Kingdom
8.61
Spain
7.34
Israel
6.98
Italy
5.70
Netherlands
$ Billion
Country
5.61
Ukraine
3.91
South Korea
3.62
Sweden
2.65
Switzerland
2.03
Canada
+9
level 51
Sep 19, 2014
Switzerland as an arms exporter surprised me. I just wouldn't assume they would be in the business of producing arms let alone selling them. Unless this includes the exportation of arms to allied nations (UN Members)?
+2
level 76
Oct 27, 2014
Same here. I always thought they were neutral - I guess that means they can supply both sides.
+66
level 84
Jun 15, 2017
It's all of the Swiss Army Knives
+2
level 58
Oct 14, 2017
LoL Stevediverse,love it.
+13
level 47
Jun 20, 2017
Switzerland is heavily militarized. Mandatory service, soldiers bring their guns home with them, tunnels and facilities underground all over the place. They are militantly neutral.
+3
level 76
Jun 25, 2017
And founded by mercenaries back in the day...
+8
level 70
Oct 14, 2017
"Neutral" doesn't mean, they don't profit from wars; look i.e. on their role in WWII.
+2
level 55
Oct 14, 2017
Must be all those Swiss Army knives
+1
level 32
Oct 15, 2017
Agreed
+3
level 55
Oct 16, 2017
I think some of the posters misunderstand one thing: the European countries have a heavy cross-border consolidation of the arms industry. So the exports you see from, say, Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland are the share of production that is statistically allocated to them. For example, Switzlerland is the home of a company that produces very advanced armored personnel carriers. The owner of this company is a German firm. The machine gun and anti-aircraft manufacturer Örlikon is also Swiss. And so on. The clients are mostly Middle Eastern and South-East Asian.
+4
level 59
Sep 27, 2019
If you want peace, prepare for war.
+2
level 28
Jan 6, 2015
Forgot Israel - stupid! Surprised by Switzerland!
+5
level 56
Jan 10, 2015
Remember arms include everything from fighter jets and tanks to guns and bullets. Switzerland is famous for its rifles.
+1
level 67
Jun 20, 2017
Grenades, Tanks, Ammunition etc.
+1
level 71
Jun 20, 2017
Also hunting and sporting arms?
+2
level 66
Jun 21, 2017
If that's the case, then it seems like sales of rifles, knives, armor, etc would be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things since the Joint Strike Fighters are selling for over 100 million dollars per plane. How many rifles equals a tank or a plane
+3
level 66
Oct 16, 2017
They don't equal that. Switzerland is still 12 places behind the USA.
+1
level 68
Jun 15, 2017
Really surprised by the Ukraine.
+3
level 46
Nov 17, 2019
I meant they were former Soviets and they have a better army/military than you think!
+7
level 70
Jun 16, 2017
Realy surprised with the all of those peacekeepers...
+2
level 79
Jun 19, 2017
Remember that just because you export something doesn't mean that you produce it. Just like unofficial diplomatic communications go through intermediary countries, I imagine that companies in so called "neutral" countries still purchase arms from major manufacturers and send them in small quantities to less than desirable peoples. That was very very common in the pre 9/11 world.
+1
level 54
Jun 19, 2017
Netherlands?
+2
level 50
Oct 14, 2017
Mainly ships (Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding) and naval surveillance systems (Thales goalkeeper systems) Stork builds parts for fighter jets. DAF generally produces trucks, and also sells trucks to the military.
+3
level 50
Jun 20, 2017
Japan is certainly losing out on a valuable export industry. We should expect that to change in the coming years, though.
+10
level 72
Jun 24, 2017
Or gaining good karma by contributing to world peace. The fact they've not been swayed by the argument that there are always other countries willing to make money out of other countries' killing people impresses me even more.
+1
level 59
Oct 14, 2017
That is changing
+1
level 59
Oct 14, 2017
These figures probably do not account for the black market and other illegal transactions. Or maybe thousands of old automatic rifles with ammunition are not as valuable as a couple of high-tech fighter jets. I'm not an expert, so I don't know the prices of these things.
+1
level 79
Sep 11, 2018
The source does include a category for unknown suppliers. Their numbers are absolutely dwarfed by all the big countries.
+11
level 75
Oct 14, 2017
Ah the west, still arming and prospering from conflict and dictators world wide.
+10
level 77
Oct 14, 2017
Right. In a related story, it's McDonald's fault that people are fat.
+4
level 75
Oct 14, 2017
Haha yea nice one, we make them for ornamental purposes right?
+3
level 77
Oct 14, 2017
Make what? Weapons? No... they're for killing people. That doesn't mean that the people who make the weapons also manufacturer their customers.
+4
level 77
Oct 15, 2017
No we're not in agreement. You are employing ridiculous oversimplification to prop up a false implication. I'm pointing out one of the flaws in logic necessary to draw that inference. The "West" ships arms many places. But the West does not prosper from conflict and suggesting that they do leads into another popular but false assumption people make about Western governments intentionally sowing the seeds of discord around the globe to profit from it. The opposite is true. Most of these arms go to countries that are seen as allies in maintaining the balance of power, because maintaining a balance of power is necessary to ensure peace and stability, which is good for business around the world. You may disagree that this is a smart policy, or disagree about who should or should not be considered an ally. Fine. But what you said is silly.
+1
level 77
Oct 15, 2017
So I disagree with the implication that the West is somehow sowing discord in order to profit from it. Popular but inaccurate meme. They ship weapons in part as a check on the growing power of other countries like Iran, Russia, North Korea, China, etc. And while, yes, China wants to annex Taiwan, and the Jews and Arabs hate each others guts, and Russia wants to conquer the world, and Africa is enjoying its 150th consecutive millennium of uninterrupted tribal violence... the West has little to do with all that.

And I also feel that the 2nd half of your statement is misleading, as well: that "the West" somehow directs aid at dictators. 1st, the democratic values of the recipient of arms is not as big of a factor as the criteria I described above, 2nd, when it is, then the West would prefer to not arm dictators. But sometimes you're choosing between monarchist Saudi Arabia and theocratic Iran, and the Russians are already arming one of them (via Syria), so...
+1
level 77
Oct 15, 2017
Anyway, it kind of depends on who you are looking at. If you look at UK exports, for example, a whopping 48% of their arms exports go to Saudi Arabia. I personally find this a bit alarming. Around a 3rd of their exports go to democracies in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas and a smaller portion goes elsewhere. Maybe the UK could take a moment to consider this. I have some British friends who are similarly unhappy about this.

On the other hand if you consider US arms exports, the majority go to democracies in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas. A smaller but still substantial portion goes to assorted monarchies around the Middle East. A tiny portion goes to various countries in Africa. The USA's biggest customer is also Saudi Arabia, but they only account for 12% of sales not 48.
+7
level 75
Oct 15, 2017
Deleted my comment in error, meant to press reply. I feel like I've properly arrived on jetpunk now I've had a long winded telling off from kalahamabut. But yes, there's massive industries all across the west (and other empires) which profit off conflict and there has been for centuries, to pretend otherwise is absurd.
+4
level 71
Feb 8, 2018
"But the West does not prosper from conflict […]" Oh, wow, kal, you lost me there too, for sure. Granted, it's not so simplistic when it's companies selling arms as opposed to governments (oh hai Halliburton!), but revenues of those magnitudes obviously benefit the local/national economy. (Plus there's no pesky ethical questions in the private sector over profit-enhancing measures, like selling to both sides, grossly overpricing inferior product, that sort of thing.)
+1
level 77
Nov 17, 2019
It's not absurd; it's absolutely true. You are buying in to very popular but stupid and inaccurate memes. It is NOT in the West's or America's interests to have widespread open conflict. Large-scale wars and large shifts in the balance of power lead to instability and unpredictability. This is bad for markets, it leads to various humanitarian crises which can lead to large numbers of refugees, outbreaks of disease, energy shortages, terrorism, etc etc. Selling weapons IS obviously good for the economies of countries that produce said weapons. But this is not the same thing as supporting or endorsing conflict. In fact it's often the opposite. If we were NOT supplying arms to Taiwan, the inevitable Chinese invasion and occupation would lead to great loss of life. If we were NOT supplying weapons to NATO and Ukraine, this would enable to Russia to start more wars in Eastern Europe. If Israel did NOT have access to the weapons necessary to defend herself, there would be war and genocide.
+1
level 77
Nov 17, 2019
Just because the US, Germany, France, etc are happy to profit from their arms sales doesn't mean that they are scheming to start wars. THAT is absurd. You can make money arming allies to help keep the peace or mitigate conflicts, too. If a man falls in to a bear pit at the zoo, and the bears are circling ready to devour him, and you throw him a can of bear mace... does that mean you are instigating conflict? The Wikileaks cable dump on the Internet, in service of Russian intelligence aimed at trying to undermine NATO and the US, if you actually read the cables, support everything I said above. No nefarious schemes to sow discord or division. It was the exact opposite. Behind the curtain the US is (or was, until the Trump administration) pursuing exactly the goals that it always stated it was pursuing. Probably the most underreported story from that whole scandal.
+1
level 77
Nov 17, 2019
and conflating private industry sales with national policy is nonsensical. Breaking arms embargoes will get you in trouble. See: Iran/Contra.
+2
level 75
Nov 17, 2019
It was a joke based on western countries featuring so heavily on this list. Get a hold of yourself kal, you're sounding delirious.
+1
level 77
Nov 17, 2019
and you're sounding like right-wing pundits describing the testimony at the impeachment hearings.
+4
level 71
Oct 14, 2017
You see the hypocrisy at work in this list. All those countries that thumb their noses at the US for it's violence making a a lot of money with weapons.
+7
level 60
Oct 14, 2017
Does that excuse the US public from believing they need to be armed with high-powered rifles? Also, the US sells more weapons than every other name on this list put together. Americans first need to get their own house in order, as you point out.
+1
level 59
Oct 14, 2017
I was surprised with Ukraine. Wonder what weapons they make.
+3
level 35
Oct 14, 2017
Israel dealing with weapons?? Such peaceful people, always suffering, oppressed by their gigantic tough neighbours...I'm quite surprised by this news...
+9
level 77
Oct 15, 2017
What a dumb strawman argument. Nobody ever said Israel was a hippie commune without any weapons. They've been fighting for their survival since day one. Of course they have weapons.
+4
level ∞
Jul 30, 2019
Can you even imagine what would happen if Israel decided to adopt pacifism and just disband their military? Anyone calling for them to do is naive.
+2
level 34
Nov 17, 2019
I mean I guess they could defend themselves without stealing any more land to Palestine
+2
level 77
Nov 17, 2019
Israel has been in a state of war, that the Arab League declared, since the day after the Israeli declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandate of Palestine. Though peace treaties were brokered with Egypt and Jordan, there has never been a sovereign Palestinian state that Israel recognized in order to establish relations with, and Israel is still technically in a state of war with some of the other countries that attacked them in '48. The last time Israel took any significant amount of land from anyone was in 1967, and this land was taken from Jordan, Syria, and Egypt, whom Israel was at war with at the time. Yasser Arafat did not declare Palestinian independence until 1988.
+3
level 71
Oct 15, 2017
This quiz is quite eye opening. Western countries make massive profits selling weapons to be used in third world conflicts. Sort of a modern day colonialism.
+7
level ∞
Jul 30, 2019
I'm sure third world countries would be happy to export arms if they were making anything that anyone wanted.
+2
level 68
Oct 19, 2017
This one really tells a story
+3
level 79
Sep 11, 2018
Informative quiz! One small suggestion: I think totals (i.e. dollar amounts) would be more interesting to see than ranks.
+3
level ∞
Jul 30, 2019
Done.
+1
level 66
Mar 14, 2019
We’re number one! We’re number one!