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Arms trade: USA increases dominance, arms flows to Middle East surge

Staff Writer |
The volume of international transfers of major arms in 2014–18 was 7.8 percent higher than in 2009–13 and 23 percent higher than in 2004–2008, according to new data on arms transfers published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

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The five largest exporters in 2014–18 were the United States, Russia, France, Germany and China.

Together, they accounted for 75 percent of the total volume of arms exports in 2014–18.

The flow of arms increased to the Middle East between 2009–13 and 2014–18, while there was a decrease in flows to all other regions.

US arms exports grew by 29 percent between 2009–13 and 2014–18, and the US share of total global exports rose from 30 percent to 36 percent.

The gap between the top two arms-exporting states also increased: US 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 US arms exports went to the Middle East in 2014–18.

‘The USA has further solidified its position as the world’s leading arms supplier,’ says Dr Aude Fleurant, Director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

‘The USA 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 and ballistic missiles, and large numbers of 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.

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, tripled (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.

‘Weapons from the USA, the United Kingdom and France are in high demand in the Gulf region, where conflicts and tensions are rife,’ says Pieter D.

Wezeman, Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme.

‘Russia, France and Germany dramatically increased their arms sales to Egypt in the past five years.’

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.

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