Home » A surge in 2022: Turkey, US and Germany lead as top buyers of Italian arms

A surge in 2022: Turkey, US and Germany lead as top buyers of Italian arms

Last year the Italian government authorised the export of armament materials produced in Italy, reaching a total value of €5.289 billion. This represents a significant increase of 13.5% compared to the previous year

A surge in exports. In 2022, the Italian government authorised the export of armament materials produced in Italy for €5.289 billion, an increase of 13.5% compared to the value in 2021 (€627.9 million, or +14%). This information was reported in the annual report previewed by Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.

  • In 2021, the authorisations amounted to €4.661 billion, a figure similar to that of 2020.
  • In 2022, the export of weapons to Ukraine was authorised for €3.8 million (compared to only €91,878 in 2021 and zero in previous years).
  • Authorisations for arms exports in 2022 have returned to pre-Covid levels. In 2019, they reached €5.174 billion, then decreased, but now they are 2.2% higher.

Individual authorisations and global licenses. The most significant portion is constituted by “individual authorisations” for each order, amounting to €3.831 billion, a 5% increase compared to the €3.649 billion in 2021.

  • The second most important category is “global licenses,” which, according to the government report, “represent a simplification tool,” totalling €998 million, an increase compared to €763.7 million in 2021.
  • The total export figure also includes authorisations for intergovernmental programs, valued at €285.3 million (7.4% of the value of individual authorisations) compared to €261.8 million in 2021. These transfer materials and components for production programs involving multiple nations, such as the Eurofighter and F-35 fighter jets.

The list of recipients. The top recipient country of individual export licenses in 2022 was Turkey, with €598.2 million, up from €41.5 million the previous year when it ranked seventeenth.

  • The United States maintained its second position with €532.8 million (lower than the €762.9 million in 2021), while Germany moved up to third place with €407.2 million (an increase from €262.6 million in 2021).
  • Qatar ranked fourth with €255.7 million, followed by Singapore (€176.7 million) in fifth place, France (€175.6 million) in sixth place, the Netherlands (€136.7 million) in seventh place, and the United Kingdom (€128 million) in eighth place. Saudi Arabia, whose authorised exports increased from €47.2 million to €123.4 million, ranked ninth among buyers of Italian arms. The same applies to the United Arab Emirates, where authorised exports more than doubled from €56.1 million to €121 million, making them the tenth buyer. Other notable buyers include Pakistan (€113 million), Kuwait (€105.7 million), and India (€104.1 million). Noteworthy increases in authorised exports were also seen in Egypt (€72.7 million, double the €35 million in 2021), Taiwan (€68.2 million, a significant increase from €6.9 million in the previous year), and Brazil (€64.2 million).
  • Regarding exports for cooperation programs and intergovernmental agreements, Germany stands out with €149 million (related to the Eurofighter program), followed by the United Kingdom with €60.9 million (mainly Eurofighter-related). The United States accounts for only €40 million, attributed to the F-35 or JSF fighter jet program (representing €40.3 million in exports in this category).

Leonardo is leading the way. The sector is dominated by Leonardo, the ninth-largest defence company in the world in terms of revenue in 2022, amounting to €14.7 billion, with 80% of this generated from defence and government contracts.

  • In 2022, Leonardo’s authorised exports amounted to €1.8 billion, followed by Idv (Exor-Iveco) with €539.3 million, and Mbda Italia (missile systems) with €304 million.

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