Canadian Military Exports 2000

Tasneem Jamal

Kenneth Epps

The Ploughshares Monitor Spring 2002 Volume 23 Issue 1

The release of the Canadian government’s Annual Report on the Export of Military Goods from Canada affords an annual opportunity to review the volume and nature of Canada’s reported military exports and the extent to which the trade is revealed by the report. The eleventh report of a series which began in 1991 was released by the Department of Foreign Affairs in February, providing details on Canada’s arms exports for the year 2000. This latest report shows that Canada’s military exports totalled $477.6 million in 2000, an increase of ten percent over the equivalent total for 1999.

As in all previous reports, military exports to the US are not documented in the Annual Report for 2000. Although Canadian arms shipments to the US annually exceed the value of those to all other countries combined, the Canadian government does not report them. Under special military trade arrangements between the two countries no export permits are required for the cross-border exchange of military goods. Since Annual Report figures are compiled solely from shipments made against export permits issued, statistics on military exports to the US “are therefore not readily available,” as noted in the Report. Even so, from records obtained from the Canadian Commercial Corporation Project Ploughshares is able to estimate Canadian military exports to the US at $933 million for 2000, an increase of about three percent or about $30 million over estimated sales for 1999.

Export figures for non-US recipients published in the Annual Report reveal that in 2000 Canadian arms sales also increased to Africa (largely due to a jump in exports to Botswana), Oceania (the result of greater sales to Australia), and Europe. Arms exports to Europe – more than half of which were shipped to the United Kingdom alone – totalled $327 million, or more than two-thirds of all non-US military exports in 2000. Other regions – Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia – received fewer Canadian military goods in 2000. Sales to the Third World (all regions apart from the US, Europe, and Oceania) declined from $97.3 million in 1999 to $90.3 in 2000 (see Table 1).

Table 1: Canadian export of military goods in 1999 and 2000 by region (in current dollars)

Region 1999 2000
Latin America $5,539,005 $3,948,943
Middle East $47,464,949 $35,126,274
Asia $43,659,201 $36,965,363
Africa $3,843,319 $21,695,331
Europe $308,873,914 $327,038,188
Oceania $24,463,838 $53,717,205
Total (Non-US) $433,844,226 $478,491,304*
US (Estimated) $903,200,000 $933,200,000
Total (Estimated) $1,337,000,000 $1,412,000,000
Third World $97,333,070 $90,265,221

Sources: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canadian Commercial Corporation.

*Note: The non-US total is the sum of all entries by country in Table 2 of the 2000 Annual Report (with the exception of Greenland which would add $10,560 to the total). This total does not match the total of $477,611,246 provided in the Report.

For each recipient country, the Annual Report provides the value of shipments in each of 19 subcategories of military goods identified on the Export Control List. In its final table, the Report lists the total value of 2000 sales for each subcategory along with the equivalent value for 1999. These figures show that the greatest increase occurred in the category of “bombs, torpedoes, rockets and missiles”which jumped from $11 million in shipments in 1999 to $78.5 million in 2000, largely due to the export of $63.1-million-worth of rockets and parts to the United Kingdom. Similarly, “electronic equipment for military use” climbed from $36.9 million in 1999 to $102 million in 2000 and ammunition sales went from $9.1 million to $35.4 million.

The 2000 values of Canadian ammunition exports to 21 countries are listed in Table 2. Exports include $5.2 million in “large-calibre ammunition components” to the Philippines, where the government has been fighting insurgents on at least two fronts for three decades. Proportionately, exports of firearms saw a significant climb between 1999 and 2000, almost tripling from $1.3 million to $3.5 million. (Details of 2000 firearms exports to 23 countries are noted in Table 3.) In particular firearms sales to Argentina increased, from $27,000 in 1999 to $182,000 in 2000, in spite of persistent reports of deliberate executions and excessive use of lethal force by police forces in that country. The greatest decline in arms sales occurred in the categories of military vehicles, which dropped from $57 million to $19.5 million, and military training and simulating equipment, which dropped from $199 million in 1999 to $105.3 million in 2000.

Table 2: Exports of ammunition from Canada in 2000

Country Value
Australia $3,841,283
Austria $6,734,844
Bahrain $1,038,000
Belgium $5,466,691
Denmark $466,270
Egypt $364,000
France $3,247,299
Germany $174,340
Greece $1,536,652
Greenland $1,067
Italy $1,414,349
Netherlands $1,097,131
New Zealand $2,500,389
Norway $1,079,528
Oman $400
Philippines $5,240,000
South Africa $250
Sweden $417,283
Switzerland $5,487
Thailand $38,000
United Kingdom $6,403
TOTAL $34,669,666

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade


Table 3: Exports of firearms and firearm parts from Canada in 2000

Country Value
Argentina $181,832
Australia $121,818
Belgium $59,335
Chile $7,397
Czech Republic $56,380
Denmark $2,325,754
Finland $6,687
France $38,000
Germany $275,829
Greece $18,485
Greenland $9,493
Guyana $5,000
Hungary $2,898
Italy $6,405
Netherlands $2,150
New Zealand $113,747
Norway $5,909
Poland $850
Sweden $896
Tanzania $435
Thailand $63,707
United Kingdom $51,097
Zimbabwe $3,078
TOTAL $3,357,182

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade


Control commitments disregarded

The 2000 Annual Report reiterates longstanding Canadian export control policy guidelines. These state that Canada “closely controls” military goods shipments to countries that pose a threat to Canada and its allies, that are involved in or under threat of hostilities, that are the subject of UN sanctions, or whose governments have a persistent record of serious human rights violations, “unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.” The Report also notes that Canada has officially endorsed the European Union’s Code of Conduct for International Arms Transfers of June 1998 and refers to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNCAR), emphasizing its “significant contribution to transparency, confidence building and enhanced global security.” It goes on to state that “Canada strongly promoted the creation of the UNCAR, established by the Secretary-General in January 1992, and was a founding contributor.”

Table 4 compares the record of selected recipients of Canadian military goods in 2000 against the export control guidelines and principles identified by the Annual Report. Column 2 of the Table identifies six recipient states subject to armed conflict (the “hostilities” of the control guidelines) as reported for 2000 by Project Ploughshares Armed Conflicts Report 2001 (see The Ploughshares Monitor, June 2001). Column 3 lists 11 recipient states where the governments have been cited by respected human rights organizations, notably Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, for serious violations of the rights of their own citizens. Six of these 11 countries also were involved in armed conflict.

Columns 4 and 5 of Table 4 illustrate instances in which Canada’s endorsement of the EU Code of Conduct suggests controls on arms shipments beyond existing guidelines. In particular, Criterion Eight of the EU code calls on exporting states to take into account “whether the proposed export would seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient country.” The criterion identifies United Nations Development Program reports among others as a “relevant source” of information for this accounting. Using UNDP data, the fourth column of Table 4 identifies recipient countries where military expenditures exceed public expenditures on education as determined by the UNDP’s Human Development Report 2001. Column five lists countries receiving Canadian arms which ranked in the same report as being in the bottom half of the “Human Development Index.” (The HDI is a comparative index adopted by the UNDP to measure human development based on a range of social and economic data.)

The sixth column of Table 4 lists Canadian military export recipients which did not report their military exports and imports for 2000 to the UN Register of Conventional Arms. Despite its advocacy of the UN Register, Canada does not require participation by recipients of Canadian military goods. (Alternatively, Canada could bolster transparency in international arms transfers by including UN register participation in its export control guidelines, and by promoting Register participation as a transfer criterion to other arms suppliers.)

The details of Table 4 illustrate a significant gap between the Canadian government’s intention and practice with respect to stringent arms export control. It is apparent that closer adherence to existing control guidelines would preclude arms shipments to at least six countries of the table – Indonesia, Israel, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, and Turkey – where indigenous populations were the victims of armed conflicts and human rights violations in 2000. Other control commitments add to the list, suggesting transfers also would be denied to countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia where human rights violations, military versus social spending, and arms transfer transparency continue to be pressing concerns.

Table 4: Selected recipients of Canadian military exports exceeding $100,000 in 2000

Country Armed conflict Human rights abuse Excessive military spending Bottom half of HDI No report to UN register Value of Cdn military sales
Argentina   X       $181,832
Bahrain     X   X $1,038,000
Botswana       X   $20,723,729
Brazil   X       $745,729
Chile         X $366,007
Egypt   X   X X $1,190,168
Greece     X     $2,239,536
Indonesia X X   X   $160,808
Israel X X X     $919,588
Jordan     X X   $248,684
Peru X X       $870,000
Philippines X X       $6,083,000
Saudi Arabia   X X   X $18,856,248
Singapore     X     $2,422,973
South Africa X X   X   $546,539
Taiwan         X $1,133,152
Tunisia       X X $260,627
Turkey X X X X   $584,920
United Arab Emirates     X   X $12,860,745
Venezuela   X     X $973,164

Sources: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Project Ploughshares, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, UN Development Program, UN Department for Disarmament Affairs.


Missing data

The Annual Report on the Export of Military Goods from Canada details the transfer of Canadian military goods, defined by the Report as “goods specifically designed or adapted for military use.” However, the Report offers only a partial picture of Canada’s exports of goods for military end-use. Quite apart from the substantial and glaring omission of all goods exported to the US Pentagon noted above, the Report does not document sales to foreign military forces of goods which are not specifically included in Group Two of the Export Control List. This means that frequent and valuable exports of Canadian-built equipment – including regular shipments of helicopters and other aircraft which have received “civil-certification” – are shipped to foreign armed forces without oversight or control by the Canadian government. And because such sales do not require export permits, the data is not compiled in the Annual Report.

Examples of data missing from the 2000 Annual Report can be found in Table 5. The data is drawn from the 2001 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a leading source of arms trade data and analysis, which reports annually on the transfer of “major conventional weapons.” SIPRI data alone indicates that the value of unreported Canadian exports to military users likely exceeded $60 million in 2000, or more than 12 per cent of reported non-US shipments. A more complete assessment of such transfers (which is demanding because of the nature of the transfers) could magnify this value, with unreported shipments totalling as much as one quarter to one half of reported sales.

Even so, the significance of unregulated transfer of Canadian equipment to military users remains unequivocal. The SIPRI-documented helicopter deliveries to Sri Lankan armed forces at war in 2000 is only one example of unregulated Canadian equipment transferred to military users likely ineligible for regulated equipment. There have been others and the “dual-use” nature of much of Canadian aerospace and military production will generate more in the future. The situation compels Canadian officials to introduce additional regulations to bring such transfers under full export control.

Table 5: Examples of Canadian military transfers in 2000 not reported by Canadian government

Recipient State Equipment Estimated value
Indonesia AN/APS-504(V) maritime patrol aircraft radar N/A
Saudi Arabia 4 Bell 412 helicopters $40,000,000
Sri Lanka 2 Bell 412EP helicopters $20,000,000
Thailand Bell 212 helicopters N/A

Source: Appendix 5C, SIPRI Yearbook 2001: Armaments, Disarmament and International Security, Oxford University Press, 2001.

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