Norwegian weapons exports nearly doubled since 2005

The value of Norwegian exports of military equipment has doubled when comparing 2005 with the record years 2008 and 2009, which both hit the NOK 3.1 billion mark. The year 2010 showed a 15 per cent decrease from the previous year, but still came out 70 per cent higher than 2005.

The majority of exports are still sent to countries in NATO. The share going to countries outside the agreement has declined since 2005. The USA remains by far the largest export partner.

Norway fourth largest exporter in 2008

According to the UN database for external trade (UN Comtrade), Norway was the fourth largest exporter of military equipment in 2008. This is most likely the highest ranking the country has ever had. The Norwegian contribution in terms of export values that year accounted for 5.7 per cent of the world’s total export of weapons and arms. In 2009, the last available year in the UN database, Norway fell to sixth place, the same position as in 2007. The top three major weapons exporters have for many years been the USA, Canada and Italy. With exports amounting to USD 4.4 billion, the USA clearly stands out from the rest. This corresponds to around NOK 26 billion, which is close to 40 per cent of the total registered global weapons export in 2009.

Record exports of munitions for NOK 3.1 billion

Based on customs declarations, Norwegian exports of military equipment amounted to NOK 2.6 billion in 2010. This is a decrease of about 15 per cent from the previous year. Nonetheless, values were up NOK 1.1 billion from 2005, equivalent to a 70 per cent increase. The period 2005-2010 holds two record years, 2008 and 2009, with stable export values at about NOK 3.1 billon each year. Compared to 2005, this equals a doubling of export value. Substantial parts of the increase were due to high exports to the USA.

Largest commodity group still military weapons and parts

The commodity group military weapons and parts continues to dominate, and at its peak in the current time period amounted to well over 60 per cent of exports, adding up to NOK 2.1 billion in 2009.

The export of bombs, grenades, torpedoes, mines, rockets and similar military equipment including spare parts has increased somewhat during the last six year period, and came to NOK 932 million in export value in 2010. Otherwise, the current year’s percentile distribution between commodity groups is more or less equal to 2007.

Large export increase to Switzerland compared to 2005

In 2010, the three largest recipients of Norwegian weapons export by value were the USA, Canada and Germany. The first two, together with countries such as Belgium and Switzerland, have increased their percentage share of Norwegian exports since 2005. The most significant positive change occurred with regard to Swiss exports. Exports of military equipment to Switzerland were worth NOK 107 million in 2010; almost 18 times higher than in 2005, when the value was only slightly above NOK 6 million.

However, the USA still ranks as our most important trading partner in this area, and exports have risen considerably in the past six years. In the peak year of 2009, exports to the USA amounted to almost 56 per cent of total Norwegian exports of military equipment, corresponding to NOK 1.74 billion. The percentages of exports going to Poland, Spain and Germany have all declined since 2005. The largest relative decline has been exports to Spain, where values fell from 20 to 0.4 per cent of total Norwegian export values from 2005 to 2010.

Decline in exports to countries outside NATO

The majority of Norwegian weapons exports go to countries that are part of the NATO agreement, and export values in this category have doubled since 2005. Exports to countries outside NATO followed the general trend for export values and thus increased during the peak years 2008 and 2009. However, values for 2010 declined 25 per cent compared to 2005, ending at NOK 305 million. Norway’s largest trade partners outside NATO are Australia, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland. Even with the Swiss increase, falls in exports to the three other countries diminished the total export value. Additionally, many smaller countries that we have previously exported to did not receive exports of military equipment in 2010. Notable countries outside Europe that Norway exports to are Thailand, Singapore and South Africa.

Source: Statistics Norway

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