Weapons Tribe update

Lisa & Ian Murray seamus at accessone.com
Sat Aug 7 14:15:19 PDT 1999

U.S. remains world's leading arms merchant

Saturday, August 7, 1999


WASHINGTON -- The United States retains its title as the world's largest supplier of weapons, raising its total to $7.1 billion even though demand has been slumping worldwide, a congressional study found.

Developing nations such as Saudi Arabia and Malaysia remain the biggest buyers despite the constraints of the Asian financial crisis and lower oil prices, the Congressional Research Service said in its annual review of arms sales.

In 1998, the United States led in new arms deals, with $7.1 billion -- up from $5.7 billion the year before. Despite the increase, that's considerably below the $21.5 billion in U.S. arms sales in 1993.

Germany ranked second, with $5.5 billion in new sales, and France third, with $3 billion.

The value of all new arms sales worldwide was $23 billion, up slightly from $21.4 billion the year before, but down from the $37.4 in 1993.

The report said that the trend has been downward, with sales to developing nations -- the biggest buyers of new arms -- at $13.2 billion in 1998, down from $23 billion in 1993.

The Asian financial crisis and low oil prices have contributed to the decline in demand, the report said.

"Competition for available arms sales continues to intensify among major weapons suppliers," wrote the report's author, Richard Grimmett, a national defense specialist with the research service.

"The limited resources of most developing nations to expend on weapons, and the need of many selling nations to secure cash for their weapons, continues to place constraints on significant expansion of the arms trade."

Even so, the United States increased its sales to developing countries to $4.6 billion last year, up from $2.6 billion in 1997.

The biggest buyer of arms last year was Saudi Arabia, with $2.7 billion in new sales. The United Arab Emirates ranked second at $2.5 billion. Malaysia ranked third, with $2.1 billion.

Major weapons categories in the study included fighter jets, helicopters, artillery, tanks and other armored vehicles, surface-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and anti-ship missiles.

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