Global Insights: World’s Arms Trade Surging, but for How Long?

Global Insights: World’s Arms Trade Surging, but for How Long?

Global arms sales continue to grow, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), with the value of worldwide weapons contracts rising by an estimated 9.2 percent in 2007. The CRS put the value of major arms transfer agreements at almost $60 billion, up from $54.9 billion the year before. The United States accounted for over 41 percent of the sales, or approximately $24.8 billion, a significant increase from the 2006 figure of $16.7 billion. Russia still ranked second, but the value of its arms transfer agreements actually fell from $14.3 billion in 2006 to $10.4 billion in 2007. Conversely, the United Kingdom saw the value of its foreign arms contracts more than double, from $4.1 in 2006 to $9.8 billion in 2007.

The United States also remained the number one arms seller in 2007 in terms of deliveries, a position it has occupied for the past eight years due to its worldwide network of allies, friends, and clients. American firms provided 41.3 percent of all major weapons deliveries in 2007, for a value of almost $12.8 billion. Russia and the United Kingdom lagged far behind, delivering $4.7 and $2.6 billion worth of weapons in 2007, respectively. But Moscow's and London's recent arms sales agreements should see them increasing weapons deliveries in the future.

The findings come from the CRS' latest annual report (.pdf), "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2000-2007," which examines arms transfers involving 14 categories of major conventional weapons -- such as tanks, warplanes, warships, and missiles -- to developing countries.

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