U.S. Now Controls More than Half of World Arms Sales

Thursday, September 29, 2011
Barack Oama with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
American arms merchants enjoyed a dominant year in 2010 as the United States was responsible for selling more than half of all weapons worldwide.
Although U.S. arms exports actually declined last year, compared to 2009, the dramatic drop in global arms deals resulted in American suppliers controlling 53% of the market (up from 35% in 2009). Altogether, the U.S. inked $21.3 billion in new weapons orders with foreign countries in 2010. These figures do not include arms deals made directly between commercial weapons makers and other countries outside of the U.S. government program known as the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system.
Only 49% of all U.S. deals were with developing countries, which usually account for the vast majority of international military purchases. These nations accounted for 70% of all new arms agreements with American suppliers last year. In 2010, U.S. companies led the world in arms sales to developing countries, controlling 40% of the market.
The United States overwhelmingly dominates arms sales to the Near East, with the bulk of sales in the last four years going to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Iraq.
Among developing countries, India was the top buyer overall, concluding about $6 billion in new deals. Next were Taiwan ($2.7 billion) and Saudi Arabia ($2.2 billion).
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010 (by Richard Grimmett, Congressional Research Service) (pdf)


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