|U.S. remains world's leading arms merchant
Saturday, August 7, 1999
By TOM RAUM
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
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
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.