Weapons sold by the U.S. surpasses the sales made in any other country, with $40 billion in contracts established in 2015. Whereas, sales in France totaled $15 billion; they are No. 2 globally. The information is based on a nonpartisan study conducted by the Congressional Research Service.
Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015, is an annual review and is an unclassified document that is believed to be the most comprehensive accounting of global weapons sales. The New York Times indicates the report takes inflation into account and makes adjustments, so the numbers are comparable year to year.
The 2015 study outlines facts about the variants surrounding global weapons sales. It states weapon trade decreased by $9 billion in 2015 when compared to 2014, even though terrorist threats and global tensions do not appear to have diminished. Interestingly, both the United States and France had increased overseas sales by $4 billion and $8 billion respectively. On the other hand, Russia experienced a slight decrease of one-tenth of a billion dollars.
On the other hand, Russia experienced a slight decrease of one-tenth of a billion dollars. Whereas, China’s sales doubled during the same period, in 2014 their weapons exports garnered the country $3 billion, whereas, the total for 2015 was $6 billion.
U.S. Weapons Trade
In May 2016, CNN reported that the U.S. exports almost 33 percent of all weapons sold internationally. In a study released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) the top 10 countries buying guns from America between 2011-2015:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
- South Korea
The Middle East is likely to be a top destination for weapon sales with the rise of ISIS continuing. In fact, 40 percent of those sold by the U.S. are to these nations. Andrew Hunter from the Center for Strategic and International Studies explains that the Middle East has experienced insecurity due to the great decline in oil prices. He further contends that the countries in the region are likely choosing defense as a priority over other expenditures on their national budgets.
America sells a broad range of weapons, which range from small arms, tanks, and fighter jets to Patriot Missiles.
With China increasing their military activity in the South China Sea, the Asian countries in the top 10 are experiencing a greater need for weapons. Vietnam is affected by the Chinese infiltration in disputed waters off its coast.
Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the sanctions against Vietnam would be lifted because they need to defend themselves. This means that the U.S. is willing to sell military equipment to assist in this endeavor.
Some skeptics believe that arming Vietnam could increase the South Seas tensions. In 2014, China built and an oil rig off of Vietnam’s coastline. The belief might have some validity since that situation was answered by a series of anti-China riots in Vietnam.
Another area of great concern is North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Several countries may increase their need for weapons and America is poised to be that supplier.
How Buyers Pay for Weapons
Most weapons importers use funds from their coffers to buy from the United States. America does provide loans and grants to select countries or purchases of defense equipment. The Foreign Military Financing program provides the funds in the form of gifted monies and loans.
Approximately $5.7 billion is the 2017 State Department budget for the financing program. The proposed budget identifies the top five countries that will benefit from the program.
- Israel – $3.1 billion
- Egypt – $1.3 billion
- Jordan – $350 million
- Pakistan – $265 million
- Iraq – $150 million
Additional funding in 2017 is designated for African armies, who are expected to spend double the amount of monies spent in 2015. CNN reports this is likely due to the rise of terrorist activity in Nigeria, Somalia, Mali, and more.
The increased global need for weapons may counter the defense budget cuts experienced by the America’s defense industry. Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson explained, “one area where we expect the majority of our growth potential to come in the years ahead in our international customers.”
Notably, Russia’s weapons market supplies lower priced arms exports, and China is actively increasing their presence in the global market. In fact, the latter saw a jump in sales between 2006-2010 of 60 percent. However, in light of China’s invasion of in the South China Sea is likely to expand exports to other Asian countries as they build weapons arsenals to defend against the ever-encroaching threat.
With a Republican Congress and Administration, the proposed defense budget will most likely be approved. This will support the capitalistic needs of the defense industry, which also secures employment for millions.
By Cathy Milne
The New York Times: U.S. Sold $40 Billion in Weapons in 2015, Topping Global Market
Congressional Research Service: Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2008-2015; Catherine A. Theohary; December 19, 2016
CNN Politics: Here’s who buys the most weapons from the U.S.
Image Courtesy of pchow98’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License