In Multipolarity

By Thom Shanker, New York Times, Dec 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — The United States again ranked first in global weapons sales last year, signing deals for about $40 billion, or half of all agreements in the worldwide arms bazaar, and far ahead of France, the No. 2 weapons dealer with $15 billion in sales, according to a new congressional study.

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

Although global tensions and terrorist threats have shown few signs of diminishing, the total size of the global arms trade dropped to around $80 billion in 2015 from the 2014 total of $89 billion, the study found. Developing nations bought $65 billion in weapons in 2015, substantially lower than the previous year’s total of $79 billion.

The United States and France increased their overseas weapons sales in 2015, as purchases of American weapons grew by around $4 billion and France’s deals increased by well over $9 billion.

The report, “Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015,” was prepared by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, and delivered to legislators last week. The annual review is considered the most comprehensive assessment of global arms sales available in an unclassified form. The report adjusts for inflation, so the sales totals are comparable year to year.

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

“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 $11.1 billion in sales from the $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 $6 billion in weapons sales, up from its 2014 total of over $3 billion.

Among arms manufacturers that also are NATO allies, Germany has found success in marketing naval systems to the developing world, while Britain has done the same with warplanes, according to the report.

The most significant overseas weapons sales for the United States last year included new agreements with Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Qatar and South Korea.

Over all, the largest buyers of weapons in the developing world in 2015 were Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq. After the United States, France, Russia and China, the study found that the major global arms suppliers were Sweden, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Britain and Israel.


U.S. increased weapons sales in 2015 despite slight drop in global arms trade

By Edward Helmore, The Guardian, Dec 26, 2016

NEW YORK- The sale of global arms dropped slightly last year to $80bn from 2014’s $89bn, according to a new congressional study, with the U.S. maintaining its position as the world’s dominant supplier.

But at $40bn the U.S. market share of weapons sales amounted to about half of all arms agreements in 2015, and more than double the orders recorded by France, its nearest rival with $15bn in sales. The U.S. and France both grew their market shares, by around $4bn and $9bn respectively.

Russia recorded a slight decline in arms orders, dropping to $11.1bn in sales from its $11.2bn total in 2014, while China reached $6bn, double the previous year’s estimates.

The latest figures were released last week by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, and are considered one of the most reliable measures of the global arms trade.

U.S. arms exports in 2016 looks set to remain broadly in line with the previous year’s sales.

Last month, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Pentagon agency that handles foreign sales, announced weapons sales of $33.6bn for 2016. The figure did not included deals for fighter jets to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain valued at $7bn that for accounting purposes will be rolled in 2017 sales.

The 2015 study, titled Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015, found that developing nations continued to be the largest buyers of arms.

The largest such buyers in 2015 were Qatar, which signed deals for more than $17bn in weapons; Egypt, which agreed to buy almost $12bn; and Saudi Arabia, which spent over $8bn.

Other leading buyers included South Korea, Pakistan, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq.

Authors of the report said the slight contraction in overall sales reflected “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,” wrote Catherine A Theohary, a national security policy specialist and author of the study.

Not only did the U.S. rank first in new arms orders, it also ranked first in the value of all arms deliveries worldwide at $17bn, or nearly 37% of all shipments. This is the eighth year in a row that the U.S. has led in global arms deliveries.

Russia ranked second in worldwide arms deliveries in 2015, making $7.2bn, and ranked second for all of those eight years. France ranked third in 2015, making $7bn in such deliveries. The increase in French orders is in a large part due to deals with Egypt for ships and combat aircraft. Sales of two amphibious assault vessels to Russia were cancelled after the Ukraine crisis and re-sold to Egypt.

The report’s findings conform to a study released in November that found that the Obama administration has approved more than $278bn in foreign arms sales in its eight years, more than double the total of the Bush administration, which approved $128.6bn.

Most of 2015’s deals were made to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia making orders to U.S. manufacturers totaling more than $115bn.

The weapons include F-15 fighter jets, Apache attack helicopters, Blackhawk utility helicopters, missile interceptors, armored vehicles and bombs and missiles. However, arms experts point out that congressional approval for sales does not necessarily result in contracts.

Still, the dubious honor of record arms sales certainly goes to the Obama administration. Defence One recently estimated that the outgoing administration brokered more arms deals than any administration since the second world war.

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