By Jeff Abramson
The United States accounts for an increasing share of global trade in major conventional weapons, according to the annual arms transfer survey by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The SIPRI report reviewed global conventional arms transfers through the end of 2020 and before the arrival of the Biden administration.
The volume of exports last year was exceptionally low in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Pieter D. Wezeman, one of the report co-authors, said in a March 15 statement accompanying the report that “[i]t is too early to say whether the period of rapid growth in arms transfers of the past two decades is over.”
SIPRI researchers measured the volume of trade with a trend-indicator value, a metric based on actual deliveries of major military equipment rather than purchasing announcements, and analyzed trends spanning the past decade. It found that the volume of international trade had decreased by 0.5 percent during 2016–2020 compared to five years earlier, but was 12 percent higher compared to 2006–2010.
United States accounted for 37 percent of exports over the past five years, which is an increase from 32 percent during 2011–2015, with identified exports of major arms to 96 states. Russia and China saw their respective shares of the global arms trade decline. Russia provided 20 percent of