Shaping strategic arms trade controls: A multivariate approach

Jeroen Klomp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The objective of this study is to measure the stringency of strategic arms trade controls across countries and explain the variation herein. This regulatory framework is implemented by sovereign states to control the international transfer of military-strategic items that potentially contain a security risk. For the purpose of this study, I apply a two-stage approach. In the first step, I employ factor analysis on more than sixty regulatory indicators related to the rigorousness of and compliance to strategic arms trade controls in a particular country to construct two new measures. The first measure is related to the extent of implementing arms trade laws and legislation, while the second captures the enforcement and control of this kind of regulation. The individual country scores indicate that there exists substantial variation in the extent to which countries implement and enforce strategic trade regulations. Therefore, in the second step, I use the predicted factor scores as a dependent variable in a Bayesian Model Averaging analysis to test several economic and political theories and find the key drivers of the stringency of strategic arms trade regulations and control policies. The general findings of this analysis suggest that the implementation and enforcement of strategic arms trade controls are primarily determined by the trade-off between two competing policy objectives: national security on the one hand and domestic economic interests on the other. In particular, the implementation effort of arms trade laws and legislation is mainly explained by economic factors, while the degree of enforcement and control is more associated with political factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)646-671
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


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