August 27, 2012
Credit: Credit: Boeing
Weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011 to a record high, pumped up by $33.4 billion in sales to Saudi Arabia, but the international arms market is not likely to continue growing, according to a comprehensive new congressional report.
The United States sold $66.3 billion of weapons overseas in 2011, accounting for nearly 78 percent of all global arms sales, which rose to $85.3 billion in 2011, the highest level seen since 2004. The previous U.S. record was set in 2008, when arms sales reached $38.2 billion, measured in 2011 dollars.
“The extraordinary total value of U.S. weapons orders in 2011 distorts the current picture of the global arms trade market,” said the report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, calling $66.3 billion in U.S. arms sales “a clear outlier figure.”
While Washington remained the world’s leading arms supplier, nearly all other major suppliers, except France, saw declines in 2011, according to the annual report prepared for Congress.
France signed arms sales valued at $4.4 billion in 2011, up from $1.8 billion a year earlier, but Russia, the world’s number two arms dealer, saw its sales nearly halved to $4.8 billion in 2011. The four major European suppliers -- France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy -- saw their collective market share drop to 7.2 percent in 2011 from 12.2 percent a year earlier.
Saudi Arabia was the biggest arms buyer among developing countries, concluding $33.7 billion in weapons deals in 2011, followed by India with purchases of $6.9 billion and the United Arab Emirates with $4.5 billion.
Total annual global arms sales ranged between $42 billion and $67 billion in the period from 2004 to 2011, reaching a cumulative total of $467.9 billion in that 8-year period.
A weaker global economy, the European financial crisis and the slow international recovery from the recession of 2008 have dampened demand for new weapons, with many countries putting off or scaling back their purchases, the report found.