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US largest supplier of arms in 2008: Report

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WASHINGTON (PTI): Defying the trends of global recession, the United States has emerged as the largest supplier of arms, accounting for more than two-third of the USD 55.2 billion of arms sales in the year 2008.

The United States has not only supplied arms and weapons to its traditional market, but also begun creating a pie for itself in the traditional Russian supplier markets like that of India, says a latest Congressional report.

Excerpts from the report, 'Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations', were reported Sunday by The New York Times.

The increase in American weapons sales around the world was attributable not only to major new orders from clients in the Near East and in Asia, but also to the continuation of significant equipment and support services contracts with a broad-based number of US clients globally, it said.

Among the large arms deal signed by the United States last year were USD 6.5 billion air defense system for the UAE, a USD 2.1 billion jet fighter deal with Morocco, and a USD 2 billion attack helicopter agreement with Taiwan.

Other large weapons agreements were reached between the United States and India, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, South Korea and Brazil, the daily said. In all the US sold arms worth USD 37.8 billion in 2008.

With USD 3.7 billion, Italy was a distant second in 2008 with Russia, which once was a major supplier of weapons was placed third with USD 3.5 billion in 2008, the report said.

Globally, however, there has been a significant drop in arms sale. The value of global arms sales in 2008 was USD 55.2 billion, a drop of 7.6 percent from 2007 and the lowest total for international weapons agreements since 2005, it said.

The New York Times said the overall decline in weapons sales worldwide in 2008 can be explained by the reluctance of many nations to place new arms orders in the face of the severe international recession, wrote Richard F. Grimmett, a specialist in international security at the Congressional Research Service and author of the study.

Grimmett said the growth of weapons sales by the United States was "extraordinary" in a time of global recession and resulted from new arms deals as well as the sustained cost of maintenance, upgrades, ammunition and spare parts to nations that bought American weapons in the past, the daily reported.

A major highlight of the global arms market has been weapons sales to developing nations which was USD 42.2 billion in 2008, a nominal increase from the USD 41.1 billion in 2007.

With USD 29.6 billion, the United States accounted for a whopping 70.1 percent of all such deals.

The top buyers in the developing world in 2008 were the UAE, which signed USD 9.7 billion in arms deals; Saudi Arabia, which signed USD 8.7 billion in weapons agreements; and Morocco, with USD 5.4 billion in arms purchases, it said.

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