Economics

World's Largest Exporters Of Arms

The United States and Russia are together responsible for over 50% of the global export of arms.

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The global arms industry is a massive business with trillions of dollars being traded annually. Emerging economies and territorial disputes have largely influenced the increase in trade of arms over the years. Industrialized nations have been on the forefront of exportation of weapons. Improved technologies have led to the innovation of hi-tech arsenals for sale to countries lacking the resources and capabilities to manufacture their own. The US and Russia are together responsible for over 50% of the world’s export of arms.

World's Largest Exporters Of Arms

United States 

The United States is the world’s top exporter of arms. With factors such as size and capabilities to its advantage, the US is home to some of the top arms manufacturing companies. The top two defense contractors in the US are ranked top in the world. They are Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing. The sales generated from the exportation of arms from the US were $47.1 billion. 

Saudi Arabia (10%) was the top customer of US arsenals followed by Australia and the UAE. 

Russia

Russia is the second largest exporter of arms in the world. Russia embarked on improving its military strength after the fall of the Soviet Union and invested heavily in military defense. The top manufacturing companies in Russia are Almaz-Antey, United Aircraft, and Tactical Missiles Corporation. The industry employs 20% of the manufacturing sector’s workforce. Russia has exerted its place in the global market through affordable hi-tech arsenals.

China

China has experienced tremendous economic growth in recent years and has invested heavily to boost its military defense capabilities. Most of China’s companies are state-owned. China North Industries Corp. is China’s most prolific manufacturer of arsenals while Aviation Industry Corp. is the second largest company. Countries without the spending power to buy sophisticated weapons from US and Russia are turning to China as an alternative. China offers advanced weapons at a lower price.

France

France is the world's fourth largest exporter of arms. The French government has shares in top companies such as Airbus and Thales group. These companies have the advantage of diversity in capabilities. They can manufacture weapons for use in air, sea, and land. This fact has established France as a manufacturer of highly specialized equipment. The main destinations for its exports are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Singapore, and Australia.

Other top countries claiming a market share of the global arms exports are Germany, the UK, Spain and Italy. These countries have domestic laws governing the export of arms.

Regulation of The Industry

Germany has a legal imposition against weapons shipped with the likelihood that they will be used for human rights abuses. The US requires potential exporters to apply for exporting licenses through the Departments of State, Commerce, and Treasury. International treaties such as the Arms Trade Treaty have been made in efforts to control the exportation of arms. The European Union, through the EU Common Position on arms export control, has established regulations to govern the countries in its region. There has been call, however, for an International golden rule to ban the export of arms that may be used to violate human rights.

World's Largest Exporters Of Arms

RankCountryArms Exported (Millions of Dollars)
1United States47,169
2Russia33,186
3China9,132
4France8,564
5Germany7,946
6United Kingdom6,586
7Spain3,958
8Italy3,823

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