US tops weapons sales globally for 2015, France in second spot

Developing nations, including Pakistan, continued to be the largest buyers of arms in 2015.

PTI| Updated: Dec 27, 2016, 17:30 PM IST
US tops weapons sales globally for 2015, France in second spot

Washington: The US ranked first in global weapons sales in 2015, selling around USD 40 billion worth armaments or half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar and more than double of nearest rival France, according to a new congressional study.

Developing nations, including Pakistan, continued to be the largest buyers of arms in 2015, with Qatar signing deals for more than USD 17 billion in weapons last year, followed by Egypt, which agreed to buy almost USD 12 billion in arms, and Saudi Arabia, with over USD 8 billion in weapons purchases.

The report titled "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015" and prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, was delivered to legislators last week. The annual review is considered the most comprehensive assessment of global arms sales available in an unclassified form.

The US and France increased their overseas weapons sales in 2015, as purchases of American weapons grew by around USD 4 billion and France's deals increased by well over USD 9 billion.

The US, however, remained far ahead of France in terms of global weapon sales, more than double of the latter's USD 15 billion.

Although global tensions and terror threats have shown few signs of diminishing, the total size of the global arms trade dropped to around USD 80 billion in 2015 from the 2014 total of USD 89 billion, The New York Times reported, citing the study.

Developing nations bought USD 65 billion in weapons in 2015, substantially lower than the previous year's total of USD 79 billion, it said.

Catherine A Theohary, a national security policy specialist at the Congressional Research Service and author of the study, said constraints on the expansion of foreign weapons sales are "due, in part, to the weakened state of the global economy".

"Concerns over their domestic budget problems have led many purchasing nations to defer or limit the purchase of new major weapon systems," she added. "Some nations have chosen to limit their purchasing to upgrades of existing systems and to training and support services."

Russia, another dominant power in the global arms market, saw a modest decline in orders for its weapons, dropping to USD 11.1 billion in sales from the USD 11.2 billion total in 2014. Latin American nations, in particular Venezuela, have become a focus of marketing for Russian arms, the study found.

China reached USD 6 billion in weapons sales, up from its 2014 total of over USD 3 billion.