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According to figures published by the Government on 26 July 2016, the global defence export market in 2015 was estimated to be worth more than £63 billion ($97 billion). The five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States of America, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom – are the world’s largest arms exporters. The UK is the third largest defence exporter in the world with its market share estimated at £7.7 billion (US $12 billion), representing 12.8% of the estimated market share of the top ten defence exporters).[1]

An arms industry database published annually by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)[2], and containing information on the 100 largest arms-producing and military services companies in the world, shows that UK companies feature consistently in the top 100 listing.

According to Government figures, the UK’s largest defence export market is the Middle East, responsible for an estimated 58% of orders between 2006 and 2015, followed by North America with an estimated 20% of orders.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has developed a unit of measurement to measure volumes of arms exports: the trend-indicator value (TIV). The TIV is based on the known unit production costs of a core set of weapons in constant 1990 US dollars. Second hand-weapons which have been significantly reconditioned are given a value 66 per cent of that of a new weapon; those which have not been significantly reconditioned are given a value 40 per cent of that of a new weapon.[3]

Based on this, Saudi Arabia has consistently been the UK’s top export market for the last 5 years, receiving two-thirds of the UK arms exports in 2015. During the same period, UK companies have been second only to US companies in exporting arms to Saudi Arabia.

[1] UK Trade and Investment, Additional Statistics – Top Defence Exporters 2015: table, 26 July 2016

[2] SIPRI is an independent international institute dedicated to providing data, analysis and recommendations on its research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament.

[3] SIPRI arms transfer database importer/exporter TIV tables, accessed 18 August 2016

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