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article imageOp-Ed: US exports 79% of global arms on average $143 billion a year

By Ken Hanly     Feb 6, 2020 in Business
The world spends a total of nearly $3 trillion a year on armaments. According to the US State Department the US drives about 79percent of the world total.
The US State Dept. World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers report publish last December represents the latest assessment of world military expenditure from 2007 to 2017.
Growth in international arms transfers
From 2007 to 2017 international arms transfers rose about 65 percent from about $119 billion to almost $195 billion according to figures from the US State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance that compiled the report.
The report
claims that both the growth in the world arms trade and the high proportion of arms imports coming from the US appear largely due to the reliance of rich often democratically-governed governments on US arms according to the report. The existence of what is often called the military-industrial complex especially in the US may have a considerable effect on this development as well.
Wikipedia provides a short description of the complex: "The military–industrial complex (MIC) is an informal alliance between a nation's military and the defense industry that supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy..The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it is most prevalent due to close links between defense contractors, the Pentagon and politicians and gained popularity after a warning on its detrimental effects in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961."
US dominates arms export business
According to the report the US accounts for 79 percent of the world arms trade or on average $143 billion annually. The European Union was responsible for about 10 percent. Russia had only 5 percent and China less than 2 percent. The US exported four times more than the next ten countries combined. The State Dept. claims that over half of the exports have been delivered to the richest and most democratic fifth of the world's population. However, the US also delivers to authoritarian regimes such as Saudi Arabia and US close allies such as Israel. The report claims that countries in the richest fifth of the world population export 97 percent of arms and import more than 63 percent. The report also notes that nations in the most democratic fifth of world population account for about 92 percent of world arms exports and 50 percent of world arms imports.
Often advanced capitalist countries which are democratic develop their own military industrial complexes so that they manufacture most world armaments for export, however many authoritarian countries such as Saudi Arabia have little or no arms manufacturing facilities and thus must rely on imports. Export percentages have changed radically over time with respect to different countries as shown on the appended video.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about US arms exports, world military spending, Militaryindustrial complex
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