Advance information from the peace and security think tank SaferGlobe’s 2016 Finnish Arms Export report indicates that the Middle East has overtaken the EU to become Finland’s most important arms export destination.
The think tank noted that players in the arms industry are seeking out new markets at the same time that EU countries are rolling back arms imports.
The result has been that since 2015, the EU has slid from the top of the totem pole as Finland’s biggest arms export market, the NGO said. In 2011 the EU accounted for roughly half of Finnish arms exports, down from 84 percent at the beginning of the 2000s.
In 2014, total Finnish arms exports were valued at 223 million euros and export permits were issued for 230 million euros. According to the think tank, the high numbers were the result of major deals with Sweden to supply armoured vehicles – in 2013 and 2014 Finland sold more than 100 million euros worth of the equipment to its western neighbor.
Extra-European markets growing
In 2015, Finland’s main arms exports included armoured vehicles and mortars as well as protective gear, much of which it sold to the Middle East. The report noted that Saudi Arabia was a major customer, having purchased military hardware, including mortars, to the tune of 29 million euros.
Behind the Middle East, sub-equatorial Africa has become the second most important export destination, driven mainly by armoured vehicle exports to South Africa. Last year Finland sold Patria armoured modular vehicles (AMVs), vehicle parts, firearms and weapon control systems valued at 30 million euros to South Africa.
SaferGlobe estimated the value of Finland’s weapons and materiel exports in 2015 at more than 99 million euros. This marked a decline from the estimate in the previous report two years ago, but it was still higher than the average of about 89 million euros during the 2000s.
SaferGlobe has projected that markets outside Europe will continue to account for growing portions of Finnish arms exports, as demand for armaments increase in the Middle East and Asia.
Other markets for Finnish military hardware in 2015 included Poland, Turkey and Norway.