Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons: Are embargoes effective?

Adelaide Baronchelli, Raul Caruso, Roberto Ricciuti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper analyses the trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) from 1990 to 2017. Our analysis relies on an unbalanced panel of 79,245 observations reporting SALW exports between 9275 pairs of countries. In particular, we study the impact of embargoes on trade in SALW. We use a gravity model framework including, in addition to traditional gravity variables, specifically SALW trade controls. The main results show that: (i) embargoes reduce SALW exports to sanctioned countries by 33%; (ii) an EU embargo appears to determine a decrease of 37% of SALW transfers, whereas for UN embargoes the impact is not significant. In addition, we found no warning signals of sanctions-busting. First, countries do not seem to import a larger number of SALW if neighbours are under an embargo. Second, the findings show that embargoes have no statistically significant effect on the trade in sporting arms. Results are robust to some robustness checks, in particular to endogeneity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1336-1361
Number of pages26
JournalWorld Economy
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Small Arms and Light Weapons
  • embargoes
  • gravity model


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