Saudi Arabia has regained its title as Canada’s top non-U.S. destination for exporting military goods after having been narrowly bumped last year by the United Kingdom, according to a federal report on arms sales.

The report, prepared by Global Affairs Canada and tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, reveals that the Saudi government purchased over $142 million worth of Canadian arms in 2016. That accounted for nearly 20 per cent of all Canadian munitions exports reported in the annual filing.

The report does not factor in arms exports to the United States, due to a long-standing exemption agreement. However, as stated in the report, as a general rule shipments to the U.S. account for nearly 50 per cent of all military good exports from Canada.

military exports indexed 2016

The total value of military goods sold abroad to countries other than the U.S. last year nearly reached $718 million. Canada’s NATO partners and traditional allies made up the bulk of the export market, including Australia, which purchased $115.8 million of Canadian-made equipment — second behind Saudi Arabia.

The sales to Saudi Arabia, however, will likely the draw the most attention and potential criticism from human rights groups, which have fought a protracted battle to halt the $14.8-billion sale of light armoured vehicles by General Dynamics Land Systems Canada — a deal approved by the former Conservative government, but green-lit by the Liberals.

The executive director for the anti-armament group Project Ploughshares says the most recent report once again signals an unwillingness on the part of the government to change its stance on Saudi Arabia.

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