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Defence industry exports, commonly called arms exports, are the export of military and dual use items (that could be used for military or civilian use) to other nations. The UK is one of the world’s largest exporter of arms.

There are two main sources of statistical information from the UK Government on the size and value of UK arms exports. Both publications come from organisations under the Department for International Trade: the Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) and the Export Control Organisation (ECO). Third party data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) can also be used when analysing arms exports.

This paper provides a brief overview of the available DSO and ECO data with explanations on how data is collected and counted. A section specifically on arms exports to Saudi Arabia is also provided as the export of weapons to Saudi Arabis has proven particularly controversial in recent years.

The Library briefing paper ‘An introduction to UK arms exports’ provides more detailed information on the UK’s policy towards arms exports, the controls in place, how licences are generated and who can impose arms embargoes.


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