The value of global military weapons sales rose in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, boosted by arms deals with developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a new US Congressional study that was published on Monday.
|China has purchased more weapons than any other country in the developing world, signing $10.4 billion in deals from 2001 to 2004|
The total value of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both industrialized and developing countries was nearly $37 billion in 2004, according to the study.
That total was the highest since 2000, when global arms sales reached $42.1 billion, and compared with a 2003 figure of $28.5 billion.
The United States headed the rankings of global weapons sales, agreeing deals worth $12.4 billion in 2004, or 33.5 percent of all contracts worldwide. However, the total was lower than the value of $15.1 billion in 2003.
The share of American arms contracts with developing countries was $6.9 billion in 2004, or 31.6 percent of all such deals, up marginally 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 big 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.
The UK 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 annual report, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, is published by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress.
The study is viewed 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 country in the developing world, signing $10.4 billion in deals from 2001 to 2004.
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.
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 - UK, 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.