The US Makes Billions Selling Weapons to Nearly 100 Countries

Weapons are the global business, and business is booming
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2016 5:29 PM CST
The US Makes Billions Selling Weapons to Nearly 100 Countries
A rocket launcher in India, one of the world's biggest weapons importers.   (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

The global weapons trade is booming, Vice reports, citing numbers from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that show it grew 14% between 2011 and 2015. That's not surprising—between "tensions in Asia" and a "state of total melt-down" in the Middle East, according to the BBC. "Just look at the headlines," the news outlet states. "In Asia and the Middle East, re-armament is very much the order of the day." Indeed weapons imports by the Middle East have increased by 61% in the past five years, the Guardian reports. And imports are rising even more in Asia, with Vietnam increasing its imports by an astounding 699% in the past five years. The biggest weapons importers in the world are India, Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia.

As massive as the global weapons trade is, the US dominates it, accounting for one-third of the entire thing. In the past five years, the US has sold "major" weapons to at least 96 countries—or nearly half the membership of the UN—with the major buyers being Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey. A congressional report found the US sold more than $36 billion worth of weapons in 2014. That's nearly $10 billion more than in 2013. Russia remains the world's second largest weapons dealer, accounting for 25% of all exports. Russian weapons are mostly going to India, China, and Vietnam. China is the world's fastest-growing arms exporter, with most of its weapons going to Pakistan. China's share of exports grew by 88% from 2006 to 2015. (More arms sales stories.)

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