Arms exports stop rising for first time since early 2000s: report

Stockholm, March 15 (AFP/APP): The number of international arms transfers has levelled off in the last five years, but a more peaceful world is not necessarily the reason as some nations shun imports and have begun producing their own weapons, researchers said on Monday.

Comparing the period of 2011-2015 to 2016-2020, three of the world’s five largest exporters — the US, France and Germany — actually increased their exports, but these rises were offset by a drop in exports from the other two major exporters, Russia and China.

While exports remain at their highest level since the end of the Cold War, this is the first time since the period of 2001-2005 they haven’t risen overall. “Demand remains high, but it hasn’t grown,” Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), told AFP.

Yearly comparisons are often less informative since individual years can include major weapons systems like submarines or fighter jets, causing spikes and drops that are not the result of policy changes, Wezeman said.

The United States, the world’s largest exporter of weapons by far, saw its share of international arms transfers increase from 32 to 37 percent. The rise further widened the gap to the number two, Russia, whose exports shrank by 22 percent, largely due to a drop in exports to India, though it still accounted for a fifth of the world’s arms exports. France’s exports grew by 44 percent, leading it to account for 8.2 percent of global exports. Germany’s arms exports grew by 21 percent while China’s declined 7.8 percent, giving them a 5.5 percent and 5.2 percent share respectively.

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