Procurement: September 1, 2005

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The international arms trade is growing again. It hit $37 billion in 2004, was well over $40 billion for 2005 and could hit $50 billion this year. This is a comeback from the last peak, $42 billion in 2000. A decline then set in, that hit $29 billion in 2003. The three biggest buyers are China, India, and Saudi Arabia. The U.S. gets about a third of those sales, but Russia, with about half the sales volume of the United States, is catching up. Britain, Israel and France are the other big sellers. Poor nations, who have far better things to spend their money on, account for about half the arms sales. Most major nations build their own weapons, especially basic stuff like small arms, mortars and some armored vehicles. More complex stuff, like combat aircraft, is only built by a few nations, and accounts for much of the exports. Many nations cut their arms purchases when the Cold War ended in 1991. For the rest of the 1990s, there were lots of cheap, Cold War surplus weapons available. But now, most of the cheap stuff is gone, and new, more expensive, gear is all that is available.

 


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