Out of about 40 countries that have a substantial defense production (and additional 60 countries that manufacture arms and ammunition on a smaller scale), only 35 countries make their reports on international transfers of conventional arms publicly available and only 25 provide data on actual exports.
This remark is taken out of the appendix of a very interesting report on maritim transport and arms shipments, published on the 10th of July 2012 by the International Peace Information Service and TransArms-Research.
Although the report talks about something else than purely arms production, licenses and export, I felt that this remark was quite interesting. It underlines another lack of transparency characterizing the defense sector, and continues like this:
The “arms trade reports” by Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom do not provide any data of the actual deliveries, only data on the number and value of licenses for export or imports, basically failing - despite the appearance of “reporting” on their arms trade - to unveil the value and destination of what the country really transferred internationally in each year. Some countries delay their reports by years and, for example, Australia’s last arms trade report covers export up to 2004!
And, as an explanation, another very important remark:
The fact that an item has been licensed for export does not mean it is exported or will be exported. Data on licenses are not data on trade but on potential trade that may or may not become exports. The value of licenses granted every year is unrelated with what has been exported in that same year because most licenses are valid for two to four years.