Politics

Global arms trade is a nearly 200 billion business and the US drives nearly 80% of it

Key Points
  • The world spends nearly $3 trillion a year on military expenditures, and the United States drives the bulk of the globe's weapons trade — about 79%, according to figures compiled by the U.S. State Department.
  • The State Department's World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers report published in December 2019 is the latest U.S. assessment of global military spending from 2007 to 2017.
  • The United States exported four times more arms around the globe than the next nine countries combined.
Crewmasters with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, prepare to refuel an F/A-18 Hornet over the W-291 training area in southern California, March 6, 2019.
Sgt. Dominic Romero | US Marine Corps

WASHINGTON — The world spends nearly $3 trillion a year on arms, and the United States drives the bulk of the globe's weapons trade — about 79%, according to figures compiled by the U.S. State Department.

The State Department's World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers report published in December 2019 is the latest U.S. assessment of global military spending from 2007 to 2017.

Despite declining in 2013 from a peak of $206 billion, the global annual value of international arms transfers from 2007 to 2017 rose about 65% from about $119 billion to nearly $195 billion, according to the State Department's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, which compiled the report.

"Both the growth in the world arms trade and the high proportion of world arms imports supplied by the U.S. appear to have been due largely to reliance on the United States as a source of arms by other rich, democratically-governed countries," the authors of the report wrote.

The report found that the United States accounted for 79% of the global arms trade, or an average of $143 billion annually. The European Union was responsible for about 10%, followed by Russia at 5% and China at less than 2%.

The United States exported four times more arms around the globe than the next nine countries combined.

According to the State Department, more than half of U.S. arms exports have been delivered to countries in the richest and most democratic quintile of the world's population.

"Countries in the richest quintile of world population appear to have accounted for more than 97% of world arms exports and more than 63% of world arms imports," the authors of the report wrote.

What's more, nations in the most democratic quintile of world population "appear to have accounted for about 92% of world arms exports and 50% of world arms imports."

Nate Rattner produced the charts from CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

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