Sipri Study: No country supplies the world with as many weapons as the USA

Germany continues to be one of the largest arms exporters in the world. In the period from 2016 to 2020, exports of armaments rose by 21 percent compared to the period from 2011 to 2015. This emerges from a new report by the peace research institute Sipri.

With a share of 5.5 percent of the total global volume, Germany ranks fourth as an arms exporter behind the USA, Russia and France. 38 percent of German arms exports go to countries in Asia and Oceania, 23 percent to the Middle East and 21 percent to Europe. The largest buyers are South Korea, Algeria and Egypt.

“Germany’s most important armaments are ships and submarines,” says Pieter D. Wezeman, senior scientist of the “Sipri Arms and Military Expenditure Program,” SPIEGEL. Because these are relatively expensive, “other countries would have to sell a large number of tanks, for example, in order to obtain the same volume.”

The USA has meanwhile further expanded its market power. In the period from 2016 to 2020, exports of armaments rose by 15 percent compared to the period from 2011 to 2015. This enabled the US to increase its share in the global arms trade from 32 percent to 37 percent. The United States exported around half of its armaments to the Middle East, with almost a quarter (24 percent) going to Saudi Arabia.

Overall, the countries of the Middle East imported 25 percent more weapons during the period under review than between 2011 and 2015:

  • Saudi Arabia remains the largest arms importer in the world with an increase of 61 percent

  • Egypt increased its imports by 136 percent

  • Qatar even increased imports by 361 percent, which underlines the strategic competition in the Gulf region

  • The imports of the United Arab Emirates fell 37 percent, but the federation agreed many new deliveries in 2020 for the years to come

While Germany, the USA and France were able to expand their exports, arms exports from Russia (-22 percent) and China (-7.8 percent) fell in the same period. After years of rapid growth, the global arms trade is now falling slightly by 0.5 percent for the first time.

Because arms deals are subject to annual fluctuations, the Sipri Institute normally gives the comparative values ​​in five-year blocks. In their current report, however, the experts particularly highlight the situation in the past year.

The total volume of the global arms trade was exceptionally low in 2020: it was 16 percent below that of 2019 and 20 percent below the total period from 2011 to 2019. »It is difficult to say to what extent the corona pandemic played a role in this through production and delivery problems . The numbers look as if they were partly a coincidence, ”says Pieter D. Wezeman.

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