Historical archive

Norwegian exports of defence-related products in 2020

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On June 11, the Government presented the annual white paper on exports of defence-related products. In 2020, Norwegian companies exported arms and military equipment worth around NOK 6.2 billion, as compared with NOK 4.5 billion in 2019.

‘The Norwegian defence industry is at the cutting edge internationally in a number of areas. This is important for our defence capability, and the industry creates jobs all over the country. The Government’s aim is to ensure the most predictable conditions for Norwegian export companies within the framework of a strict and responsible export control regime,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Norway takes a strict precautionary approach, and there is a low threshold for denying export licences. Norway maintains a higher level of transparency about defence-related exports than most countries.

‘The Government considers it important to continue to ensure a high level of transparency with regard to both the exports themselves and the way the guidelines for processing export licence applications are practised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The white paper provides information on actual exports of defence-related products from Norway and gives an account of the Norwegian export control system and the Government’s export control policy.

Exports in 2020

The value of exports of arms, ammunition and other military equipment was around NOK 6.2 billion in 2020, which is 36 % higher than in 2019. Exports of dual-use items for military use rose by 21 %. Altogether, there was a 35 % increase in exports of defence-related products and dual-use items for military end use. In 2020, 27 export licence applications were denied.

The main importers of defence-related products from Norway are still other NATO countries, Sweden and Finland. In 2020, exports of arms and ammunition to these countries accounted for about 86 % of overall defence-related exports. Exports of other military equipment to these countries accounted for 88 % of the total in 2020.

The increase in exports of arms and military equipment (Category A products) from 2019 to 2020 is largely due to the export in 2020 of air defence systems and related components to Indonesia and Lithuania, for approximately NOK 531 million and NOK 817 million respectively.

In many cases, exports are carried out under large-scale contracts and deliveries may be unevenly distributed over the contract period. As a result, the export value may vary considerably from year to year.

Strengthening cooperation with relevant government agencies

The white paper also describes cooperation with other Norwegian authorities and the private sector, and outlines sanctions and restrictive measures, and international export control and non-proliferation efforts. Norway attaches importance to promoting agreement on strict international standards for control of exports of strategic goods and technology.

This year’s white paper gives a detailed account of the various steps the Ministry has taken to follow up the investigation by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) of the authorities’ work in the area of strategic export control in the period 2016–2018. The OAG presented its report in February this year. Since 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has implemented several measures to improve documentation and written assessments, and has initiated a procurement process to acquire a new application processing system. The Ministry is also working to strengthen cooperation with the Norwegian Police Security Service, the Norwegian Intelligence Service and Norwegian Customs on export control and non-proliferation.

Better control of knowledge transfer

Control of knowledge transfer is a key issue in international non-proliferation efforts. There is a need to strengthen controls in this area to prevent certain countries from acquiring technology for military purposes.

‘Norwegian knowledge and technology communities may be exposed to attempts to circumvent the export control rules. These attempts may involve knowledge relating both to conventional weapons and to weapons of mass destruction. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is now in the process of revising the export control regulations to strengthen control of knowledge transfer and define this more clearly,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

The white paper presents ongoing work in this area and provides insight into what actors in the private and academic sectors can expect with regard to the export of knowledge.

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