Weapons Sales Worldwide Rise to Highest Level Since 2000
By THOM SHANKER
Published: August 30, 2005
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 - The value of military weapons sales worldwide jumped
in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, driven by arms deals with
developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a
new Congressional study.
The total of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both
industrialized and developing nations was nearly $37 billion in 2004,
according to the study.
That total was the largest since 2000, when global arms sales reached $42.1
billion, and was far above the 2003 figure of $28.5 billion.
The United States once again dominated global weapons sales, signing deals
worth $12.4 billion in 2004, or 33.5 percent of all contracts worldwide. But
that was down from $15.1 billion in 2003.
The share of American arms contracts specifically with developing nations
was $6.9 billion in 2004, or 31.6 percent of all such deals, up slightly
from $6.5 billion in 2003.
Russia was second in global arms sales, with $6.1 billion in agreements, or
16.5 percent of all such contracts, a notable increase from its $4.4 billion
in sales in 2003. In 2004, Russia signed arms transfer deals worth $5.9
billion with the developing world, 27.1 percent of the global total, up from
$4.3 billion in 2003.
Britain was third in arms transfer agreements to the developing world in
2004, signing contracts worth $3.2 billion, while Israel ranked fourth, with
deals worth $1.2 billion. France followed with $1 billion.
The report, "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations," is
published by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library
The annual study, which was delivered to Congress on Monday, is considered
by academic experts to be the most thorough compilation of facts and figures
on global weapons sales available in the public domain.
The study uses figures in 2004 dollars, with figures for other years
adjusted to account for inflation.
The statistics in the report "illustrate how global patterns of conventional
arms transfers have changed in the post-cold-war and post-Persian-Gulf-war
years," Richard F. Grimmett, a specialist in national defense at the
Congressional Research Service, wrote in the introduction to the study.
"Relationships between arms suppliers and recipients continue to evolve in
response to changing political, military and economic circumstances," he
said. "Nonetheless, the developing world continues to be the primary focus
of foreign arms sales activity by conventional weapons suppliers."
The study found that arms sales to developing nations in 2004 totaled nearly
$21.8 billion, a substantial increase over the $15.1 billion in 2003. That
was 58.9 percent of all arms sales agreements worldwide for last year.
Over the last four years, China has purchased more weapons than any other
nation in the developing world, signing $10.4 billion in deals from 2001 to
2004. Such statistics could be used by those in the United States government
who have argued against any decision by the European Union to lift its arms
embargo against China.
For that same four-year period, India ranked second, with $7.9 billion in
arms purchases, and Egypt was third, with $6.5 billion in deals.
But India surpassed China in total purchases in 2004, agreeing to buy $5.7
billion in arms.
Saudi Arabia was second in signing arms deals last year, with contracts
valued at $2.9 billion, and China was third in 2004, signing $2.2 billion in
contracts for arms purchases.
"Presently, there appear to be fewer large weapons purchases being made by
developing nations in the Near East," Mr. Grimmett wrote, while relatively
larger purchases are being made by developing nations in Asia, "led
principally by China and India."
According to the study, the four major West European arms suppliers -
Britain, France, Germany and Italy - significantly increased their
collective share of arms sales with developing nations between 2003 and
2004, rising to $4.8 billion in 2004 from $830 million in 2003.