Weapons Sales Worldwide Rise to Highest Level Since 2000
by : THOM SHANKER
Wednesday August 31, 2005 - 23:30
By THOM SHANKER
WASHINGTON 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 of Congress.
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.
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