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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 60, September 2001

News Review

Global Arms Sales Rise

On August 20, the US Congressional Research Service released a report showing a rise of 8.47% in global arms sales - totalling $36.8 billion - in 2000. The report, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 1993-2000, identified the United States as the source of over half the exports ($18.5 billion), followed by Russia ($7 billion), France ($4.1 billion), Germany ($1 billion), the UK ($600 million), China ($400 million) and Italy ($100 million). The major importers were the United Arab Emirates ($7.4 billion), India ($4.8 billion), South Korea ($2.3 billion) and China ($2.1 billion). 68% of all exports were to states in the developing world. The report's author, Richard F. Grimmett, concluded: "As the 21st Century begins, the United States seems best positioned to lead in new arms agreements with developing nations." Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Undersecretary for Disarmament affairs, commented (August 30): "Whether one looks at the big weapons or the little ones, the facts are alarming. ... The highest rates of increase [in expenditure on arms], once again, were in countries with enormous unmet social and economic needs in Africa and South Asia." Dhanapala illustrated the disparities hidden in the statistics by quoting two figures: $130, the amount (according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) every person on earth would have to spend to equal government expenditure on arms last year; and $2, the average daily per capita income for over half the world's population.

The following categories of weapon were covered in the study: tanks, artillery, armoured personnel carriers and armoured cars, naval surface ships, submarines, guided-missile patrol boats, supersonic and subsonic combat aircraft, other fighter aircraft and helicopters, and surface-to-air, surface-to-surface and anti-ship missiles.

Reports: US leads charge as global arms sales rise, Reuters, August 20; US dominates arms trade in 2000, Associated Press, August 21; Global arms sales rose 8.47 percent in value in 2000, Washington File, August 22; Global weapons purchases on the rise - UN, Reuters, August 30; UN - global military spending rises, Associated Press, August 30.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.