Suppose a Western company wants to sell their products to another country, presumably non-Western.

Say, a company based in the UK wants to sell a missile system to the Saudis.

I can see two scenario here -

  1. talk to the UK government and tell them to press Saudis to purchase
  2. talk to the Saudis and tell them to press UK government

Whom do they first obtain consent from: the government of the country they're based in, or the potential customer?

  • They would have some idea who they can sell weapons to, based on government announcements, trade rules, and sanctions, so an American company wouldn't spend much time speaking to North Korea. If you're asking about the formal procedures for weapons sales, it would help to specify a country. And there's going to be a difference between something like handguns and advanced weapons with a lot of secret technology (new fighter jets, nuclear submarines).
    – Stuart F
    Jun 24 at 10:39
  • @StuartF, say, Saudis and missile systems.
    – user366312
    Jun 24 at 10:49
  • Here, weapons exporters basically have to get governmental approval if they want to export weapons to a certain country each time they export. This kind of suggests that first there needs to be a potential customers. Who presses whom is not known. Officially nobody of course.
    – Trilarion
    Jun 24 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


The company would probably at the same time.

  • Lobby the Saudi government to order their missiles
  • Lobby the UK government to provide an export permission in case they come to an agreement

When the Saudis got convinced to make the purchase but the UK government is still on the fence whether or not to greenlight the export, then it is very well possible that the Saudis will also start to exert some diplomatic influence.

It's not too likely that the UK government will be very motivated to exert pressure on the Saudi government to buy missiles they don't want or need. It's probably not going to work anyway. And they have little motivation to do that, unless the arms manufacturer is a "too big to fail" company in desperate need of business which the UK government can't give them themselves at the moment.

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