Defence-related exports from Norway in 2017

This week, the Government presented the annual white paper on exports of defence-related products. In 2017, Norway exported arms and military equipment worth around NOK 5.4 billion, up from NOK 3.6 billion in 2016.

Exports of arms and ammunition accounted for just under NOK 4.7 billion, and other defence-related products for around NOK 680 million. The total value of exports of defence-related services, repairs, production rights and brokering services was NOK 520 million. In 2017, exports of dual-use items for military end use were valued at NOK 450 million. Dual-use items are civilian products and   technologies that may also have military applications.

In 2017, the total value of defence-related exports from Norway was approximately NOK 6.3 billion. This is an increase of 33% compared with 2016, when the total value of defence-related exports was approximately NOK 4.8 billionThe value of exports of defence-related services, repairs, production rights and brokering services decreased by 42% compared with 2016.

Traditionally, the main importers of defence-related products from Norway have been other NATO countries, and Sweden and Finland. In 2017, exports to this group of countries accounted for 63% of exports of arms and ammunition (Category A products) and 80% of exports of other defence-related products (Category B products).

‘As the white paper indicates, the value of Norway’s defence-related exports increased from 2016 to 2017. This was mainly due to exports to Oman and increased exports to Poland. The exports to Oman were the result of a contract for the delivery of an air defence system, which was signed in 2014,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

‘The increase in the value of exports to Oman and Poland illustrates the fact that contracts for the delivery of defence-related products can extend over several years. The deliveries may be unevenly distributed over the contract period and the export value will therefore vary from year to year. This is clearly evident in the figures for exports to Oman and Poland in 2017. Another relevant factor here is that there has been a significant increase in the price of defence-related products in recent years, mainly due to investments in new technology development,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said. 

The value of defence-related exports to the US, Canada, Germany, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates decreased in 2017, compared with 2016.

The white paper also contains information about denied applications for licences to export defence-related products and dual-use items for military end use. In 2017, 25 licence applications were denied.   

‘By international standards, Norway maintains a high level of transparency about defence-related exports, when it comes to both access to information about the exports themselves and about the Ministry’s processing of export licence applications for defence-related products, in line with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs guidelines. The Government considers it important to continue to ensure this level of transparency,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

‘In this year’s white paper, we have also chosen to shed light on some of the challenges arising from the fact that an increasing number of defence systems and products are developed through cooperation between manufacturers in different countries. There may be different rules and regulations in the countries the Norwegian defence industry is cooperating with, and this may potentially challenge Norwegian export control policies.

‘The Government will continue to ensure a predictable framework for the defence industry as regards export control, in both the defence and the civilian sectors. Predictability is important for safeguarding the jobs and value creation this industry represents. The Norwegian defence industry is a world leader in the field of technology, which is also of value to other sectors,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide   said.

‘All licence applications for exports to high-risk regions are thoroughly assessed on an individual basis and in line with the strict precautionary approach taken by Norway,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.

In accordance with this, in December 2017, the Government decided to suspend licences for the export of arms and ammunition to the United Arab Emirates. This decision was based on a risk assessment of the grave and unpredictable situation in Yemen.  

‘Licence applications for exports of other defence-related products will be thoroughly assessed to determine the risk of Norwegian defence-related products being used for internal repression or being used in Yemen, and the threshold for refusing export licences on these grounds has been lowered further. We will continue our restrictive practice in this area,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.  

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not aware that Norwegian defence-related products have been used in the war in Yemen. There have been claims in the media that a small amount of Norwegian-made goods has been found in Yemen. The Ministry has so far not been able to verify this information. 

The sale of arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia is still not permitted. 

‘Norway has strict regulations in place for exports of defence-related products. Export control is an integral part of our defence and security policy,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said. 

The white paper also describes the Ministry’s cooperation with other government agencies and the extensive international cooperation on export control and non-proliferation. Norway participates actively in this cooperation, and is engaged both in the technical work to draw up lists of conventional defence-related products and dual-use items, and in the efforts to reach agreement on high international standards for control of exports of strategic goods and technology.