Despite a recession that knocked down global arms sales last year, the United States expanded its role as the world’s leading weapons supplier, increasing its share to more than two-thirds of all foreign armaments deals, according to a new Congressional study.
The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.
Italy was a distant second, with $3.7 billion in worldwide weapons sales in 2008, while Russia was third with $3.5 billion in arms sales last year — down considerably from the $10.8 billion in weapons deals signed by Moscow in 2007.
The growth in weapons sales by the United States last year was particularly noticeable against worldwide trends. The value of global arms sales in 2008 was $55.2 billion, a drop of 7.6 percent from 2007and the lowest total for international weapons agreements since 2005.
Weapons sales to developing nations reached $42.2 billion in 2008, only a nominal increase from the $41.1 billion in 2007.
The United States was the leader not only in arms sales worldwide, but also in sales to nations in the developing world, signing $29.6 billion in weapons agreements with these nations, or 70.1 percent of all such deals.
The study found that the larger arms deals concluded by the United States with developing nations last year included a $6.5 billion air defense system for the United Arab Emirates, a $2.1 billion jet fighter deal with Morocco and a $2 billion attack helicopter agreement with Taiwan. Other large weapons agreements were reached between the United States and India, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Korea and Brazil.
The top buyers in the developing world in 2008 were the United Arab Emirates, which signed $9.7 billion in arms deals; Saudi Arabia, which signed $8.7 billion in weapons agreements; and Morocco, with $5.4 billion in arms purchases.