As arms sales increase, so do the arms race

80 % of the world’s conventional weapons are supplied by five countries. Research has shown that arms exports have risen by 22 % over the period 2005-2009; It is hard to ignore the fact that the world is embroiled in an arms race and the big boys are quietly pocketing their profits.


In figures released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) the independent research organization, from 2005-2009 conventional weapons sales were up by 22 %. United States and Russia led the pack with the most arms exports, while the major importers of arms are from the Asia and Oceania region.

In a world where the economies are finding it hard to sustain themselves, the security needs remain intact. Heavy duty arms manufacturers are doing a roaring business worldwide. The presence of  four major conflicts in the world and a slew of countries embroiled in constant arms race keeps the weapons counter running.

According to the same SIPRI report, United States (30%) and Russia (27%) were supplying half of the world’s conventional arms demands. The other countries in the top five conventional arms sellers included Germany which had doubled its exports to 11 % share of total world arms exports. France (8%) and United Kingdom (4%) made up the rest of the top five. Together, these five countries supply 80% of the worlds weapon needs.

Among the regions which demanded most of these weapons is the Asia and Oceania, especially the South and South East Asia. This region of the world made up for 41 % of all global arms imports. India, China, Vietnam and Singapore make up the majority of conventional arms importers. They were followed by Europe at 24 % and then Middle East with 17 %. South America (11%) and Africa (7%) make up the rest of regional feuds that fuelled weapon splurges.

Arms exports constitute a major chunk of exports for the developed countries. Russia expects its arms exports to bring a windfall in the sums of $9.5 billion in 2010. India, China, Algeria, Venezuela and Malaysia are the top importers of Russian military hardware.

However, the US, which had to play second fiddle to Russia for the better part of the 1990’s, now furnishes 30% of the global weapon needs. Its client list includes the top five arms importing countries including the economically troubled Greece, as well as the United Arab Emirates and South Korea. 39 % of all US arms, and spare parts went to the Asia and Oceania region, followed by the Middle East at 36%.



Germany has seen its fortunes double as its military sales rose to 11 % of all world arms exports. Germany‘s profits have soared in the recent times thanks to the arms race between Greece and Turkey. The bulk of German military sales come from 1700 armoured personnel carriers sold to 21 countries.  However, Turkey is Germany's main military hardware client.
It is interesting how many of these current and former military powers are passively facilitating imbalance in regions for their own dollars. India and China are engaged in a turf war and have raging arms race between them.  Pakistan shares a similar arms race with India as well. Staying among the top 10 weapons importers, Singapore has always had an uneasy relation with neighbour Malaysia and both countries have been guilty of stockpiling. Northern Africa, or Africa in general has always been embroiled in one conflict or another and the need for arms in this continent is only superseded by its need for food.

The fact remains that while the developed world opposes arms race, they are passively supporting the escalations between neighbouring countries for their own gain. They have now come to rely on this income. The self righteous west which includes US, UK, France and Germany are all too willing to supply in lieu of demand. Their sacrifice of ethics for dollars risks putting more families in danger every day.