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Canada exported nearly $2B in military goods & tech in 2020

$2 out of every $3 worth of military goods exported last year went to Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Global Affairs Canada published their Exports of Military Goods report for 2020. I thought I’d share some of the data with you.

Last year, Canada exported $1.97 billion worth of military goods and technology to countries other than the United States. This is down significantly from the record-breaking $3.76 billion exported in 2019, but it’s still the third highest value in at least the last 40 years. The second highest was in 2018, when we exported just barely more than $2 billion.

By comparison, between 1978 and 2017, Canada had only 2 years when we exported above $1 billion worth of military goods and technology. We’ve exported more in the last 3 years than we did in the previous 10 years combined.

Remember, that’s just non-US countries. As far as US exports last year, we sent them $126.1 million worth of military exports. Here’s how those break down:

TypePermitsValue
Smooth-bore weapons, <20 mm calibre
Automatic weapons, <12.77 mm calibre
Accessories
57$4.37 M
Smooth-bore weapons, >20 mm calibre
Automatic weapons, >12.77 mm calibre
Accessories
7$6.42 M
Ammunition
Fuse-setting devices
8$68.42 M
Explosives (bombs, torpedoes, grenades,
rockets, mines, etc)
38$46.86 M
Total113$126.07 M
Canadian military exports to United States

Canada also exported 10 armoured combat vehicles to the United States last year. The report didn’t contain any information on the combined value of those vehicles.

Regarding non-US countries, there were 18 countries who received military exports from Canada that had a combined value of at least $10 million, and that’s $10 million per country.

DestinationValue
Saudi Arabia$1,310.57
United Kingdom$122.88
Turkey$48.05
Japan$42.28
France$41.37
Singapore$35.07
Germany$33.64
Sweden$29.18
New Zealand$27.29
Australia$27.20
United Arab Emirates$24.82
South Korea$23.57
Netherlands$21.74
Taiwan$19.85
Israel$18.95
Italy$16.82
Norway$14.02
Mexico$13.10
in millions $

These 18 countries accounted for 95.2% of all military exports, in terms of total value. That’s a combined $1.87 billion. The other 66 countries made up less 5% of total exports, at only $95.3 million.

Of the 18 countries that received over $10 million in exports, most of that went to one country: Saudi Arabia. Canada exported $1.31 billion in military goods and technology to the Saudis. That amounts to 70.1% of the exports to the top 18 countries and 66.7% of the exports to all 84 countries.

When we break it down by the number of permits, we see another story. Here are the top 20 countries by the number of export permits for military goods and technology.

UtilizedIssuedTotal
United Kingdom354399753
Israel400247647
Germany211229440
France133128261
Australia9377170
Switzerland7677153
Italy6665131
Netherlands6564129
Sweden6059119
Japan5750107
Norway5154105
South Africa2972101
Singapore475097
South Korea455297
New Zealand395291
Belgium364076
Thailand343973
Spain323971
Poland333467
United Arab Emirates313566

Utilized export permits may include permits that were issued in previous years but that were exported against in 2020. Issued export permits are permits that were issued in 2020.

So where does Saudi Arabia sit in this case? 29th place at 33 total permits: 18 utilized and 15 issued in 2020. $1.31 billion but only 33 permits. That works out to about $39.7 million per permit. They were the only country with a per permit value of over $1 million.

Here are the top 20 countries based on the value of their total exports divided by their total number of utilized and issued permits.

CountryPermitsValuePer permit
value
Saudi Arabia33$1,310,566,266.36$39,714,129.28
Turkey50$48,049,465.54$960,989.31
Taiwan36$19,849,731.40$551,381.43
Japan107$42,275,355.49$395,096.78
United Arab Emirates66$24,818,351.43$376,035.63
Singapore97$35,065,448.39$361,499.47
New Zealand91$27,293,140.84$299,924.62
Sweden119$29,184,929.91$245,251.51
South Korea97$23,565,832.32$242,946.72
Netherlands129$21,738,642.59$168,516.61
United Kingdom753$122,879,079.22$163,186.03
Australia170$27,196,583.48$159,979.90
France261$41,374,150.74$158,521.65
Norway105$14,023,648.02$133,558.55
Italy131$16,821,681.48$128,409.78
Poland67$8,425,343.68$125,751.40
Denmark60$7,279,248.87$121,320.81
Spain71$8,423,571.71$118,641.86
Thailand73$6,674,073.14$91,425.66
Belgium76$6,133,413.04$80,702.80

Now, keep in mind that these exports aren’t all weapons. Some of them are components for weapons, or accessories, or various technology.

If we restrict exports to strictly weapons, we actually end up with only 7 countries that Canada exported weapons to last year.

ACVLCAUCAVMMLRifles/
carbides
Assault
rifles
HMGTotal
Netherlands361361
Saudi Arabia79473156
UAE109109
USA104454
Singapore88
Germany156
France33
ACV: Armoured combat vehicle
LCA: Large-calibre artillery systems
UCAV: Combat aircraft and unmanned combat aerial vehicles
MML: Missiles and missile launchers
HMG: Heavy machine gun (full automatic firearm over 12.7 mm / .50 calibre)

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news stories, focusing on municipal, provincial, and federal politics, specializing in investigative journalism and critical analysis from a leftist political lens. He also writes regular editorials on general politics and social issues.

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