The U.S. maintained its lead as the top weapon exporter over the past five years even as Russian and Chinese exports increased more quickly, a Swedish research group said.
While German and French arms exports dropped, the volume of U.S. shipments abroad was 23 percent higher from 2010 to 2014 than in the previous five years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said in a study published Monday.
“The USA has long seen arms exports as a major foreign policy and security tool, but in recent years exports are increasingly needed to help the U.S. arms industry maintain production levels at a time of decreasing U.S. military expenditure,” said Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.
Russian exports rose 37 percent. China, with exports increasing 143 percent, overtook Germany as the third-largest arms merchant. German exports fell 43 percent and France’s declined 27 percent.
Taken together, the top five accounted for 74 percent of all arms exports, with the U.S. accounting for 31 percent and Russia 27 percent. The U.K., Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Israel rounded out the top 10.
The five biggest importers from 2010 to 2014 were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, accounting between them for 33 percent of global imports.