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An analysis of customs data suggests that for the period 2001 to 2017 seven countries—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States—routinely imported small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition worth USD 100 million or more per year.

Customs data also suggests that 18 additional countries imported at least USD 100 million or more in at least one year between 2001 and 2017: Cyprus, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2017, 69 countries—five more than the previous year—qualified as top and major importers, having recorded at least USD 10 million worth of imports. Among them, 13 were top importers—with small arms imports equal to or above USD 100 million.

For additional information on annual authorized small arms and light weapons exports and imports by major exporter and importer (annual transfers of at least USD 10 million) as reported in UN Comtrade, see the Trade Update 2020: An Eye on Ammunition Transfers to Africa.

Note: This data does not reflect transfers to and from all countries. Moreover, it excludes trade in many categories of light weapons ammunition and light weapons systems. 

» See annual import data


Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Trade Update 2020: An Eye on Ammunition Transfers to Africa, by Nicolas Florquin, Elodie Hainard, and Benjamin Jongleux. Report, December 2020.

    Download (4.69 MB)
  • Trade Update 2019: Transfers, Transparency, and South-east Asia Spotlight, by Michael Picard, Paul Holtom, and Fiona Mangan. Report, December 2019.

    Download (5.02 MB)
  • Trade Update 2018: Sub-Saharan Africa in Focus, by Paul Holtom and Irene Pavesi. December 2018.

    Download (3.63 MB)
  • Trade Update 2017: Out of the Shadows, by Paul Holtom and Irene Pavesi. September 2017.

    Download (2.99 MB)
  • Trade Update 2016: Transfers and Transparency, by Irene Pavesi. June 2016.

    Download (4.71 MB)
  • Small Arms of the Indian State: A Century of Procurement and Production, January 2014. India Armed Violence Assessment Issue Brief No. 4 (also available in Hindi).

  • The US Firearms Industry: Production and Supply, by Jurgen Brauer, February 2013. Working Paper No. 14.

    Download (1.82 MB)
  • Small Arms Transfers: Importing States, November 2011. Research Note No. 12, Weapons and Markets (also available in Catalan and Spanish).

    Download (245.05 KB)
  • Skirting the Law: Post-CPA Arms Flows to Sudan, by Mike Lewis, September 2009. Working Paper No. 18 (also available in Arabic)

  • The Militarization of Sudan: a Preliminary Review of Arms Flows and Holdings, April 2007. HSBA Issue Brief No. 6 (also available in Arabic)

  • Buying the Bullet: Authorized Small Arms Ammunition Transfers, by  Anne-Kathrin Glatz, 2006. In Stéphanie Pézard and Holger Anders, eds. Targeting Ammunition: A Primer.

    Download (1.26 MB)
  • Making Global Public Policy: The Case of Small Arms and Light Weapons, by Edward Laurence and Rachel Stohl, December 2002. Occasional Paper No. 7

    Download (292.02 KB)
  • Small Arms Availability, Trade, and Impacts in the Republic of Congo, commissioned by IOM and the UNDP, by Spyros Demetriou, Robert Muggah and Ian Biddle, April 2002. Special Report No. 2

    Download (720.11 KB)
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Other Publications

  • Solmirano, Carina and Pieter D. Wezeman. 2010. Military Spending and Arms Procurement in the Gulf States. SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) Fact Sheet. October. Stockholm: SIPRI. 

  • Holtom, Paul. 2009. Reporting Tranfers of Light Arms and Small Weapons to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, 2007. SIPRI Background Paper. Stockholm: SIPRI.

    More information
  • Holtom, Paul. 2008. Transparency in Transfers of Small Arms and Light Weapons: Reports to the United Nations Register for Conventional Arms 2003-2006. Policy Paper 22. Stockholm: SIPRI.

    More information
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