Arms Export Trends

World arms exports and world arms imports are opposite sides of the coin at the world level and behave identically, with matching drops in volume and annual rates of decline. Thus, as with total imports, total exports declined by almost 73% since the beginning of the decade. As with world imports, the declines are subject to some upward revision in the latest years in future editions.

This declining trend can be credited to both the developed and developing country groupings, here considered as arms exporters rather than importers and, as noted above, redefined in this edition. (See Statistical Notes, Coverage ... ) Total arms exports by developed countries in 1994 were 72% less than in 1984 and by developing, 80% less. Over the decade arms exports fell by an annual rate of 12% for developed countries and 16% for developing. However, during the most recent five-year period, annual rates of decline for the two groupings switched in terms of pace. Arms exports fell by an annual rate of 19% for developed countries and 13% for developing (Table 5 and Figure 12).

Developed countries dominate the market in terms of arms exports, providing 93% of all weapons in 1994.

Figure 12. World Arms Exports, 1984-1994

World Arms Exports, 1984-1994 (16k)

The $21 billion exported in 1994 was a drop of $6.5 billion from 1993 and $54.4 billion from 1984. On the other hand, the $1.6 billion in arms provided by developing countries in 1994, 7% of the world total, was a slight increase of $75 million from 1993. Aside from this increase, developing exports recorded consecutive drops since peaking at over $8 billion in 1988, when they accounted for 11% of the world total . (For trends in exports by region, see Figure 13.)

Table 5
World Arms Exports: Shares and Growth

(In percent)


                     World Share      Real Growth Rate* 

                     -----------      -----------------

                                      Decade   2nd Half 

                     1984    1994      84-94    90-94 

 World               100.0   100.0      -12.4    -18.8 

 Developed           90.5    93.0      -12.1    -19.2 

 Developing           9.5     7.0      -15.7    -12.9 

 Region

 North America       25.0    57.2       -3.9     -8.2 

 Western Europe      26.5    26.3      -10.4    -18.9 

 Eastern Europe      39.3     8.6      -26.2    -42.2 

 East Asia            5.9     4.4      -11.9    -17.4 

 Middle East          1.4     3.3      -11.2      7.4 

 South America        1.3      .4      -25.2     -9.5 

 South Asia            .6      .2      -14.5    -23.2 

 Oceania               .1      .1      -13.7    -21.8 

 Central Asia & Cauc.   -      .1          -        - 

 Cent. America & Car.   0       0      -10.4     17.7 

 North Africa           0       0      -36.4    -68.2 

 Subsaharan Africa      0       0         .7     -2.1 

 

 Europe, all         65.8    34.9      -17.9    -29.0 

 Africa, all            0      .3       -5.6       .2 

 Organization / Reference Group

 OECD                52.0    83.5       -6.8    -12.4 

 OPEC                  .2     1.1       -9.4     11.4 

 NATO, all           49.3    82.3       -6.4    -12.2 

 Warsaw Pact (fmr)   38.3     8.6      -26.1    -41.8 

 NATO Europe         24.3    25.2      -10.0    -18.7 

 Latin America        1.3      .5      -23.1     -7.8 

 CIS                    -     6.6          -        -

 ------------------
* Average annual rate, calculated as a compound rate curve fitted to all points (see Statistical Notes for details).

Figure 13. Arms Exports by Region, 1984-1994

Arms Exports by Region, 1984-1994 (24k)

Table 6
Share of World Arms Exports
(in percent)

                             SU                  Other 

                        US   RS   UK   GM    FR  W.Eur.  CH  Others 

 

               1984     24   32    4    5    10     8     3      14 

               1985     26   32    3    3    13     7     1      15 

               1986     23   39    7    2     8     5     2      14 

               1987     26   37    8    2     5     6     3      13 

               1988     23   37    8    3     3     6     5      15 

               1989     30   36    9    2     4     3     4      12 

               1990     33   33    9    4    10     3     3       5 

               1991     41   21   14    7     5     4     4       4 

               1992     47    8   16    5     5     6     3      10 

               1993     49   11   16    6     3     4     4       7 

               1994     56    6   15    3     4     4     4       8

Figure 14. World Arms Export Shares, 1992-1994

World Arms Export Shares, 1992-1994 (30k)

Overall in 1994 there were a total of 53 suppliers exporting arms to some 99 recipients. Only four developed countries-Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and New Zealand-exported zero arms. Of the ten largest arms suppliers in 1994, all but China, with about $800 million, were developed countries. Some 23 other developing countries exported arms in 1994, the next largest being Qatar, with $130 million.

The ten largest suppliers in the world accounted for 93% of the total arms exports in l994. The top five-United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France provided 84% (Table 6 and Figure 15).

United States

Note: With this edition, the scope of U.S. arms exports is expanded to include exports of military services under the FMS program. (See Statistical Notes, Arms Transfers)

The United States continued to be the dominant supplier of arms to the world, providing exactly one half of the total in 1992-1994 (Figure 14) and well over half in 1994 (56%). US exports have fallen consistently during the decade, at an average rate of 4% since 1984 and 8% since 1990, from a high of almost $21 billion in 1987 to a low of $12.4 billion in 1994. However, the rate of decline for the United States, though quickening during the latter half of the decade, is much slower than for the world.

Of the over $39 billion in weapons exported by the United States to the world during 1992-1994, half went to developed and half to developing countries. Of the half going to developed countries, 41% was delivered to NATO members.

Figure 15. Leading Arms Exporters, 1994

Leading Arms Exporters, 1994 (39k)

The Middle East is the main recipient of American arms. During 1992-1994 the region imported $17.6 billion in arms from the United States; this amounted to 45% of total US exports, 52% of the region's imports, and more than double the amount exported to Western Europe. The four largest recipients of the region-Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Kuwait-continued to be the United States biggest customers. Together, they imported nearly $17 billion in U.S. arms during 1992-1994, 95% of the entire region's imports from the United States and 50% of its total purchases. Of this amount, Saudi Arabia alone purchased $8.6 billion, or over half.

Western Europe imported over $8 billion in weaponry from the United States during 1992-1994, second only to the Middle East. This amounts to 61% of total arms purchased by the region. Key purchasers Turkey ($2.5 billion), Germany ($1.1 billion), Spain ($825 million), and the Netherlands and United Kingdom ($675 million each) -accounted for 71 % of all US shipments into the region and 43% of its total imports. Turkey's $2.5 billion alone accounted for 31% of US sales to Western Europe. In contrast, the United States provided only $25 million in arms to Eastern Europe during this period.

The United States exported some $6.6 billion in arms to East Asia in 1992-1994. Of this amount, 85% went to three recipients-China-Taiwan ($2.4 billion), Japan ($1.9 billion), and South Korea ($1.3 billion). All of Taiwan's and almost all of Japan's arms purchases were provided by the United States. Exports to South Korea were shared equally between the United States and Germany.

Oceania (mainly Australia) imported over $0.9 billion worth of US arms during the period. US exports to the other regions-South America, Central America, North and Subsaharan Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia-ranged from $0.4 billion to nil and totaled $0.8 billion.

Shown in Table 7 is the United States share of regional arms imports, cumulative for 1992-1994, by delivery and agreement sales (Table III). Noteworthy is the high U.S. share of regional arms import agreements in Oceania (80%), Western Europe (75%), Middle East (53%), and East Asia (49%).

Figure 16. Leading Arms Exporters by Country and Year, 1984-1994

Leading Arms Exporters by Country and Year, 1984-1994 (30k)

Table 7
United States Arms Export Shares
(in percent)


                                 US Share of Total

                                 Recipient Imports



         Recipient          Deliveries     Agreements

 

       World                        50          55 

         Developed                  60          68 

         Developing                 43          44 

         Africa                     17          14 

         North America (NAFTA)      12          12 

         South America              36          26 

         Central America            60          40 

 

         Central Asia & Caucasus     0           0 

         East Asia                  54          49 

         Middle East                52          53 

         South Asia                  0           0 

 

         Western Europe             80          75 

         Eastern Europe              0           0 

 

         Oceania                    75          80 

Western and Eastern Europe

European countries provided 35% of total world arms purchases in 1994, down seven percentage points from their share in 1993 (Table 8). Total arms exports fell annually by 18% during the decade and 29% during the last half of the decade. As expected, these declines can be credited mostly to Eastern Europe, whose arms sales fell much faster, declining at 26% during the decade and dramatically at 42% since 1990, compared to the Western half's 10% and 19% rates, respectively. Eastern Europe supplied only 9% of the world market in 1994, compared to a share in the high-to-mid-thirties during most of the eighties. Eastern Europe's sales of $2 billion in 1994 represented a 95% drop from the 1987 peak year amount of $34.7 billion.

Russia is the key supplier of arms in Eastern Europe, with $1.3 billion in deliveries in 1994 or over two-thirds of the region's total, though sales remain drastically lower than during the period of Soviet dominance (Figure 16). Over most of the decade, the Soviet Union maintained a stable share of the world's exports at 32-39%, but fell to 21% in 1991. Successor Russia's share plummeted to 8% in 1992, then rose to 11% in 1993 before falling again to 6% in 1994. In addition to Eastern Europe, the largest recipients of Russian arms have been in East Asia, which imported almost $2 billion during 1992-1994, and the Middle East, importing $1.6 billion. China ($1.7 billion), Iran ($1 billion), India ($925 million), and Hungary ($825 million) were Russia's largest importers of arms during this period. The Czech Republic is the next largest arms exporter of the region with $300 million in sales in 1994. From the world perspective, Russia was the third largest arms exporter in 1994, while the Czech Republic was in eighth place.

Western Europe is now the second largest arms exporting region, accounting for 26% of the total world market in 1994. That was down slightly from the previous two years and on a par with its share at the beginning and middle of the decade (Table 8). The traditionally high arms exporting countries of the United Kingdom, Germany, and France continued to rank high. Over the last three years of the decade, these three made up almost one quarter of total world sales, while the remaining 17 Western European countries accounted for only 5%. Together they accounted for 63% of total European and 84% of Western European exports in 1994. In 1994 the United Kingdom ($3.4 billion) ranked second in the world in terms of total arms exported, France ($800 million) was tied with China at fourth, and Germany ($700 million), ranked sixth.

The United Kingdom's arms sales peaked at $6.4 billion in 1987 and have dropped steadily since, to a low of $3.4 billion in 1994. The United Kingdom has nevertheless become the region's leader in arms sales. The 1994 amount accounted for 44% of Europe's total arms sales and 58% of Western Europe's, compared to 5% and 13% for the same groupings in 1984, respectively.

The United Kingdom's key arms recipient is Saudi Arabia, which imported $9.4 billion, or 75% of all UK exports during 1992-1994. The next largest recipient was the United States, with imports of $1.4 billion.

Germany's $700 million in sales in 1994 was a 60% drop from the previous year's $1.7 billion and a 83% drop from the 1984 peak year. In 1994 Germany accounted for 12% of Western Europe's arms sales. During 1992-1994 Germany exported $3.7 billion in arms, mainly to other Western European countries ($1.4 billion) and East Asia ($1.3 billion). South Korea was the largest importer with $1.2 billion in purchases during this period, followed by Greece ($470 million), the United States ($370 million), Switzerland ($360 million), Israel ($310 million), and Finland ($280 million).

Table 8
European Arms Export Shares

(in percent)


                1984    1990    1992    1993    1994 

 

                   Share of World Arms Exports 



Europe, all       66      61      42      41      35 



  Western Europe  26      26      33      29      26 

  Eastern Europe  40      35       9      12       9 

 

                Share of Western Europe's Arms Exports 

 

France            37      39      16      10      14 

Germany           29      13      14      21      12 

United Kingdom    13      36      49      55      58 

Other NATO Europe 23       8      12      11      12 

 

                Share of Eastern Europe's Arms Exports 

         

USSR/Russia       82      95      87      90      69



French arms sales plummeted at a 21% annual rate over the decade and 38% during the most recent five year period. French exports fell steadily between 1984-1989, rose dramatically to $5.5 billion in 1990, and have recorded steady drops since. In 1994 these sales made up 14% of Western European exports, compared to 37% in 1984. In 1992-1994 France sold over $3 billion in arms mainly to its Western European neighbors ($1.2 billion) and the Middle East ($985 million). Sales to Saudi Arabia were $525 million during this period, accounting for 17%. Greece and Switzerland ($360 million each), and Finland ($320 million) together accounted for one-third of total French sales during the three-year period.

In terms of the share of exports going to developing countries in 1992-1994, the United Kingdom rated a very high 83% due to large Saudi purchases, compared to France's 58%, the United States' 50%, and Germany's 10%.

Table 9 shows the major shifts that have taken place in the supply of arms to the developing countries as a group. Thus, the top suppliers at the beginning and end of the decade had the following ranks and shares of that market (in percent):

 

                                 1984        1994 

         United States          2) 14       1) 43 

         United Kingdom         6)  3       2) 22 

         Soviet Union/Russia    1) 38       3) 10 

         China                  5)  5       4)  6 

         France                 3) 12       5)  5 

         Germany                4)  6       6)  1 

Table 9
Share of Total Arms Exports to Developing Countries
(in percent)

       United   United    USSR/                     (West) 

       States   Kingdom   Russia   China   France   Germany 

 

1984     14        3        38       5       12        6 

1985     15        3        38       2       18        2 

1986     15        7        46       3       10        1 

1987     14        9        47       5        5        2 

1988     11        9        49       7        3        2 

1989     13       12        49       7        4        1 

1990     18       11        43       4       14        1 

1991     27       17        31       6        6        5 

1992     41       22        12       5        4        1 

1993     44       22        13       7        3        1 

1994     43       22        10       6        5        1 

 

1984-94  19       10        39       5        8        2 

The United States has replaced the Soviet Union/Russia as the leading supplier, and the United Kingdom has surpassed both Russia and France to rise from sixth to second place. Both Russia and France have much-reduced shares, Russia dropping to third and France to fifth.

Developing Country Exporters

Developing countries exported roughly $1.6 billion in arms in 1994. The grouping's share of world exports has been below the 10% mark throughout the decade, except 1988 when the share rose to 11.5%, then dropped as low as 5% in 1993 before rising to 7% in 1994. Over the decade, developing country arms exports dropped annually by an average 16% and 13% since 1990. The volume of exports has tapered off substantially since the early-to-mid 1980s, to a point where only a handful of countries play significant roles in exporting weapons, the dominant one being China.

China continues to be in a class by itself in terms of developing country arms exports, although it too recorded sharp declines in exports during the latter portion of the decade. Since peaking at over $3.6 billion in 1988, sales dropped steadily (excluding a small increase in 1993), to roughly $1 billion in the last three years. China, with $800 million in 1994 arms sales, tied with France as the world's fourth leading arms exporter. China exported some $2.8 billion in weaponry during 1992-1994, about 4% of total world sales, 94% of this amount going to developing countries. The main recipients were Pakistan ($875 million), Iran ($525 million), Burma ($300 million), and Saudi Arabia ($170 million), together, accounting for two-thirds of China's total.

Qatar ($130 million), Iran ($90 million), Brazil and Moldova ($80 million each), and the Ukraine ($60 million) also were among the top twenty exporters in 1992-1994.


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