Global recession hits arms sales

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The global economic downturn that hit in 2008 has led to a drop in the value of worldwide arms sales, the U.S. Congressional Research Service has reported (Thom Shanker, “Bad Economy Drives Down American Arms Sales,” New York Times, 12 September 2010).

Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2002-2009 reports that the value of new arms transfer agreements worldwide fell by 8.5% in 2009, from $62.8 billion in 2008 to $57.5 billion in 2009. According to author Richard F. Grimmett, the U.S. share of those orders fell by an even greater amount, declining from $38.1 billion (60% of the total) in 2008 to $22.6 billion (39% of the total) in 2009.

The report attributes much of the U.S. decline to the large number of high-value arms sales made by the U.S. in 2008. Such totals, he notes, are “not usually duplicated two years in a row.” Nonetheless, the U.S. remained the major arms supplier (in terms of the value of actual deliveries) to the rest of the world in 2009:

In 2009, the United States ranked first in the value of all arms deliveries worldwide, making nearly $14.4 billion in such deliveries or 41%. This is the eighth year in a row that the United States has led in global arms deliveries. Russia ranked second in worldwide arms deliveries in 2009, making $3.7 billion in such deliveries. Germany ranked third in 2009, making $2.8 billion in such deliveries. These top three suppliers of arms in 2009 collectively delivered $20.9 billion, 59.5% of all arms delivered worldwide by all suppliers in that year.

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