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U.S. Increases Dominance of Global Arms Trade

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By MarEx 2019-03-10 18:09:12

The volume of international transfers of major arms has increased, and the five largest exporters are the U.S., Russia, France, Germany and China.

In 2014 - 18, the volume of transfers was 7.8 percent higher than in 2009 - 13 and 23 percent higher than in 2004 - 2008, according to new data published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Together, the top five nations accounted for 75 percent of the total volume of arms exports in 2014 - 18. The flow of arms increased to the Middle East, while there was a decrease in flows to all other regions. 

U.S. arms exports grew by 29 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18, and the U.S. share of total global exports rose from 30 percent to 36 percent. The gap between the top two arms-exporting states also increased: U.S. exports of major arms were 75 percent higher than Russia’s in 2014 - 18, while they were only 12 percent higher in 2009 - 13. More than half (52 percent) of U.S. arms exports went to the Middle East in 2014 - 18.

The U.S. exported arms to at least 98 countries in the past five years; these deliveries often included advanced weapons such as combat aircraft, short-range cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and guided bombs.

Arms exports by Russia decreased by 17 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18, in particular due to the reduction in arms imports by India and Venezuela. Between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18 France increased its arms exports by 43 percent and Germany by 13 percent. The combined arms exports of European Union member states accounted for 27 percent of global arms exports in 2014 -18.
 
A small number of countries outside Europe and North America are large arms exporters. China was the fifth largest arms exporter in 2014 - 18. Whereas Chinese arms exports rose by 195 percent between 2004 - 2008 and 2009 - 13, they increased by only 2.7 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18. China delivered major arms to 53 countries in 2014 - 18, compared with 41 in 2009 - 13 and 32 in 2004 - 2008. Pakistan was the main recipient (37 percent) in 2014 - 18, as it has been for all five-year periods since 1991.

Between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18 British arms exports increased by 5.9 percent. In 2014 - 18 a total of 59 per cent of British arms exports went to the Middle East, the vast bulk of which was made up of deliveries of combat aircraft to Saudi Arabia and Oman.

Israeli, South Korean and Turkish arms exports increased substantially—60 percent, 94 percent and 170 percent, respectively between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18. 

Arms imports by states in the Middle East increased by 87 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18 and accounted for 35 percent of global arms imports in 2014 - 18. Saudi Arabia became the world’s largest arms importer in 2014 - 18, with an increase of 192 percent compared with 2009 - 13. Arms imports by Egypt, the third largest arms importer in 2014 - 18, increased 206 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18. Arms imports by Israel (354 percent), Qatar (225 percent) and Iraq (139 percent) also rose between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18. However, Syria’s arms imports fell by 87 percent.

States in Asia and Oceania received 40 percent of global arms imports in 2014 - 18, but there was a decrease of 6.7 percent compared with 2009 - 13. The top five arms importers in the region were India, Australia, China, South Korea and Vietnam.
 
Australia became the world’s fourth largest arms importer in 2014 - 18 after its arms imports increased by 37 percent compared with 2009 - 13. Indian arms imports decreased by 24 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18. Russia accounted for 58 percent of India’s arms imports in 2014 - 18. Chinese arms imports decreased, but it was still the world’s sixth largest arms importer in 2014 - 18.

Algeria accounted for 56 percent of African imports of major arms in 2014 - 18. Most other states in Africa import very few major arms. The top five arms importers in sub-Saharan Africa were Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Cameroon and Senegal. Together, they accounted for 56 percent of arms imports to the subregion. 

Venezuelan arms imports fell by 83 percent between 2009 - 13 and 2014 - 18.