What I have read here suggests that the US and Saudi Arabia are linked by trade (oil for arms and vice versa). Here is a quotation from the article.

Oil has also linked the two countries since before World War II, when America oil companies helped the kingdom develop the sector. The relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia has always been likened to a marriage of convenience: the United States provides security in return for Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, ensuring affordable oil supplies for the global economy.

I have been searching for evidence that US oil imports from Saudi Arabia are correlated with the the recent arms deal, however, I have yet to find a source that provides quantification.

My question is two-fold. Does this correlation exist? If so, has anyone quantified it? Am I correct in saying that the quotation from the article I linked is not sufficient enough to support this claim? Am I chasing a dead end here?

A quick addendum. The one remotely related stat I could find says the following, however, I do not think it links directly to the US-Saudi Arabia deal.

In line with this, we found that a country with a recent discovery of new oil fields will increase its import of weapons from oil-dependent economies by 56%. Our results point consistently toward the conclusion that the arms trade is an effective foreign policy tool to secure and maintain access to oil. As such, the arms trade reveals national interests beyond simple economic considerations and the volume of bilateral arms transfers can be used as a barometer of political relations between the supplier and the recipient states. At the same time, we find that oil might play an even larger role in influencing economic and political decisions than is generally acknowledged.

1 Answer 1


If your only source of income is one export then of course your imports of all other products are going to be correlated, necessarily. In the case of Saudi Arabia, a large majority of exports is oil and oil products. Graphic representation of SA exports. So the answer to your question is yes, but it might be obscure in time series data.

There is no particular reason why the timing of major weapons contracts and oil sales need to be coincident in time. Oil is a consumption good so it is produced, paid for, exported, and consumed at an almost steady rate. The value of the exports will be affected by the state of the global economy and earlier expectations of the economy so there is variability in the value of exports even if volumes are more steady. News of major weapons contracts is going to be sporadic and deliveries are not necessarily coincident with the contract.

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