Human Rights Page
Military Spending

AP Diplomatic Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Reversing a downward trend, the United States and most other nations are spending more on weapons despite a sharp decline in Russia and Eastern Europe, a State Department study shows.

The United States is by far the biggest arms exporter with shipments more than four times greater than runner-up Britain's.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, is the leading importer of military goods, buying more than 2{ times as many as China, ranking second.

On the average, the world spent $145 a person for military forces in 1997, the most recent year covered in the study. That was a sharp drop from the peak of $271 per person in 1987.

U.S. spending comprised 33 percent of the world's total in 1997, compared to 27 percent a decade earlier. Overall, world military spending rose to $842 billion in 1997, an increase of $32 billion, or 2 percent, from the previous year. ``This may represent the beginning of an upturn in the world trend following a 1995-96 low,'' the report issued Monday said.

Spending in developed countries rose slightly, to $610 billion, while it climbed to a historic high of $232 billion in 1997 among developing countries. Their share of world arms spending rose to 28 percent, up from 17 percent in 1987.

The world's top military spenders in 1997 were the United States, $276 billion; China, $75 billion; Russia and France, $42 billion; Japan, $41 billion; Britain, $35 billion; and Germany, $33 billion.

The world's arms trade rose to $54.6 billion, up 23 percent from 1996 but far below 1987's all-time high of $81.5 billion. These State Department calculations are based partly on estimates of U.S. commercial licenses, a recently adopted method that significantly increased the American total. Saudi Arabia was the biggest importer, with $31.3 billion.

China and Taiwan, combined, were next with $12.5 billion, followed by Japan with $6.8 billion and Egypt with $5.3 billion.

A separate report by the Congressional Research Service, which uses actual contracts, showed a steadier trend, with arms contracts worldwide totaling $34 billion last year. This compared with $35.4 billion in 1998, $40.6 billion in 1997 and $34.8 billion in 1996.

Developing nations, generally among the world's poorest, continued as the primary focus of arms merchants, accounting for 68.3 percent of all arms purchases from 1992 through 1999.

The United States made $25.7 billion in arms agreements with developing countries, or more than one-third of the world total, from 1996 through 1999. Russia was second, with $14.3 billion, and France third at $9 billion.

Cameron Green
Last Updated - Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:04:32 -0600